Health-care shares lead pack The Toronto stock market registered a solid gain Wednesday morning with traders anxious to see what the U.S. Federal Reserve has to say about cutting back on its monthly asset purchases. The S&P/TSX composite index moved higher by 70.61 points to greet noon at 13,250.77 The Canadian dollar dipped 0.33 cents to 93.94 cents U.S. The gold sector led advancers as Goldcorp was ahead 43 cents to $23.01 . March copper declined a penny to $3.32 U.S. a pound while the base metals component rose First Quantum Minerals gained 31 cents to $17.38 . Financials were up as Manulife Financial improved by 16 cents to $19.89 . The energy sector moved ahead with Suncor Energy was ahead 47 cents to $35.98 . Imperial Oil Ltd. has applied for regulatory approval to build a new Aspen oilsands project northeast of Fort McMurray, Alta. , which would cost an estimated $7 billion . The first phase of Imperial's $12.9-billion Kearl oilsands mine north of Fort McMurray started up earlier this year. Imperial gained 15 cents to $45.52 . The telecom sector was up as Industry Minister James Moore says the government will move to prevent wireless providers from charging customers of rival companies more than they charge their own customers for domestic roaming. The CRTC is already investigating the issue of whether big wireless companies are charging their smaller Canadian competitors too much to use their networks. Rogers Communications was up 26 cents to $47.43 . Elsewhere on the corporate front, a report from a federal review panel on Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would link the Alberta oil sands with a tanker port on the B.C. coast, will be released Thursday following more than a year of hearings. The highly-anticipated report on the controversial project will include the panel's recommendations for the project but the final decision on whether the pipeline can go ahead rests with the federal government. Enbridge rose 50 cents to $44.45 . Canadian food company Saputo will face just one rival in the home stretch to acquire Australia's oldest diary processor. Bega Cheese is withdrawing from the race for Warrnambool Butter & Cheese. Saputo's remaining rival is Murray Goulburn , which says its AU$9.50 cash offer is superior to Saputo's, which has a range from AU$9 to AU$9.60 depending on how much stock the Canadian company acquires. Saputo rose 12 cents to $47.89 On the economic calendar, Statistics Canada reported this morning that October's wholesale trade strengthened 1.4% to $50.5 billion , compared to a market call for a 0.3% improvement, after two straight months of sub-par growth. Higher sales were reported in five of seven sub-sectors, representing over 70% of wholesale sales. ON BAYSTREET The TSX Venture Exchange moved higher 0.45 points to 886.52 All but three of the 14 TSX subgroups prospered by noon, led by health-care, up 1.4%, gold, advancing 1%, and real-estate, gaining 0.8%. The three laggards were information technology, down 0.2%, consumer discretionary stocks, fading 0.1%, and consumer staples, sliding 0.02%. ON WALLSTREET The U.S. Federal Reserve is wrapping up its final policy meeting of the year and investors are split over whether the central bank will announce plans to scale back, or taper, its $85-billion -U.S.-per-month bond buying program. Till then, investors are somewhat tentative. The Dow Jones Industrials was ahead 28.71 points – off its highs of the morning -- to face high noon at 15,903.97 The S&P 500 index subsided 0.86 points to 1,780.14. The NASDAQ slid 16.23 points to 4,007.45 The tech-heavy NASDAQ was held back by shares of electronic manufacturing service provider Jabil Circuit, which fell 20% after announcing plans to sell its warranty repair business. Ford shares plunged nearly 8% after the automaker said it expects profits in North America to be lower next year as it rolls out new models in the United States . General Motors and Tesla shares were also lower. Gogo shares plunged after the lockup period for certain holders of the stock expired. Company insiders and underwriters were prohibited from selling shares for 180 days after the in-flight Internet provider went public on June 20 . Shares of movie theater chain AMC rose nearly 9% in early trading after the company raised $331 million from its initial public offering late Tuesday. General Mills shares were slightly lower after reporting earnings that missed forecasts, and FedEx shares also dipped after delivering an earnings update. Oracle is set to report results after the market close. Shares of social media companies were under pressure. LinkedIn was hit particularly hard, while Facebook and Twitter suffered more minor losses. This could be a very volatile day for the markets as investors wait for the Fed's announcement at 2 p.m. ET and press conference featuring Fed chair Ben Bernanke at 2:30. The Fed has been buying bonds since 2008 and many investors say the liquidity boost has been the main driver of the bull market in stocks since 2009. But as the economy improves, the Fed has been preparing the market for a gradual reduction in the program, known as quantitative easing. Bernanke sent shock waves through global markets in May when he first raised the prospect of tapering. There's little consensus on when the Fed will begin tapering, although most agree that it will happen sooner rather than later. Some are expecting the rollback to begin this year, while others are convinced it will be pushed out to 2014. In economic news, the U.S. Commerce Department said the number of new homes breaking ground soared nearly 23% in November from the month prior. But applications for building permits, a leading indicator for new home construction, fell 3% in the month. Prices for 10-year U.S. Treasuries sagged, raising yields to 2.89% from Tuesday's 2.84%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions. Oil prices gained 19 cents to $97.41 U.S. a barrel. Gold prices docked $1.10 to $1,229.00 U.S. an ounce.
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