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The sign outside Scotia Plaza in Toronto shows the closing numbers of the TSX on Tuesday, July 3, 2012.

Matthew Sherwood/The Globe and Mail

Canada's benchmark index is on track to post its sixth consecutive gain on Wednesday, even as European stocks retreated following weak readings on service-sector activity in June.

At noon, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 74 points or 0.6 per cent, to 11,923.

On Tuesday, it enjoyed its biggest one-day gain since November at the same time that the S&P 500 finished its best three-day rally of the year. The U.S. market was closed on Wednesday for Independence Day.

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In Europe, stocks were mostly lower: The U.K.'s FTSE 100 fell less than 0.1 per cent and Germany's DAX index fell 0.2 per cent.

Economists expect the European Central Bank will provide some stimulus in the form of a quarter-point rate cut on Thursday. The reasons behind this expectation, apart from the ongoing sovereign-debt crisis, were made clear: A gauge on Germany's services industrials slumped slightly below a reading of 50, putting it into contraction territory.

China's services sector expanded in June, but at its slowest pace in 10 months.

Within the S&P/TSX composite index, though, the enthusiasm for stocks was widespread, with all 10 subindexes moving higher. Commodity producers, which led Tuesday's spectacular rally showed modest gains. Energy stocks rose 0.3 per cent and materials rose 0.5 per cent.

However, they were overshadowed by a number of other areas. For example, financials rose 0.9 per cent and consumer discretionary stocks rose 1.4 per cent.

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