Stocks mainly positive as traders await Fed rate announcement

The Toronto stock market registered a small gain Wednesday with all eyes on the U.S. Federal Reserve and its mid-afternoon announcement on interest rates.The S&P/TSX composite index was up 15.73 points to 14,639.98 amid a heavy day for earnings reports from a variety of heavyweights in the resource sector, including Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B), Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX) and Suncor Energy (TSX:SU).The Canadian dollar was up 0.23  of a cent to 89.75  cents US.U.S. indexes were mainly higher with the Dow Jones industrials gained 41.96 points at 17,047.71, the Nasdaq declined 3.85 points to 4,560.44 while the S&P 500 index rose 3.97 points to 1,989.02.Expectations are high that the Fed will announce the completion of its third round of quantitative easing will take place at the end of the month. Some traders have viewed the end of this stimulus with some trepidation since the program of massive bond purchases kept long-term rates low and helped encourage the strong rally on stock markets over the past few years.Markets also looked for reassurance that the Federal Reserve will keep short-term rates low after QE ends and in particular will focus on the Fed keeping the words “considerable period” in its announcement.Meanwhile, Teck Resources reported it had $159 million of adjusted profit in the third quarter, or 28 cents per share, down 37 per cent from the third quarter of 2013 but three cents per share higher than analyst estimates.Revenue was down nearly 11 per cent to $2.25 billion with results impacted by lower prices for its steelmaking coal and its shares were up 74 cents or almost four per cent to $18.58.Barrick Gold reports after the market closes and Suncor Energy issues its quarterly results this evening.Elsewhere in the resource group, Sherritt International Inc. (TSX:S) says it’s cutting the size of its head office workforce by 25 per cent and preparing to sell the building as part of a previously announce cost-cutting plan. The Toronto-based company also says that the restructuring will reduce the overall salaried workforce by about 10 per cent, without making cuts at a key nickel operation in Madagascar.The miner also said its continuing operations had a net loss of $51.3 million or 17 cents per share, down from a small profit a year earlier and its shares were ahead six cents to $2.75.In the U.S., Facebook shares fell six per cent after the social network company said after the close that earnings nearly doubled to US$802 million after paying preferred dividends, or 30 cents per share. Revenue rose 59 per cent to $3.2 billion. Adjusted earnings and revenue both beat Wall Street’s estimates.But on a conference call with analysts, finance chief David Wehner said he expects Facebook to incur higher expenses than normal in the quarters to come, in the wake of big investments in both engineering talent and acquisitions.The energy sector led advancers, up 1.25 per cent while December crude ran up 89 cents to US$82.21 a barrel.The metals and mining sector climbed one per cent as December copper was unchanged at US$3.10 a pound.The gold sector was the leading decliner, down 1.4 per cent while December gold declined $7.20 to US$1,222.20 an ounce.