North American stocks are likely to open mixed Wednesday following a profit warning from General Motors and a drop in oil prices.

GM forecast a hefty loss for the first quarter and trimmed its full-year estimate, citing cuts in vehicle production and lower-than-expected sales in North America.

Crude oil prices fell this morning after OPEC ministers agreed to pump an extra half-million barrels of oil a day beginning April 1 and suggested they could boost production again if needed. Light, sweet crude for April delivery fell 30¢ to $54.75 US a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange in Europe.

In today’s economic news, the U.S. current account deficit, a measure of global trade, widened even more than expected at the end of 2004 despite the U.S. dollar’s fall against major currencies.

The current account deficit increased to US$187.9 billion during October through December from an upwardly revised $165.9 billion in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said today. Increasing oil prices late last year and surging imports caused sharp deterioration of the deficit.

For all of 2004, the current-account deficit swelled to US$617.1 billion from US$496.5 billion in 2003 as imports ascended for oil, consumer goods and other things.

In other earnings news, Alcan has revised its annual earnings upward, citing an earlier “overstatement” of charges related to the acquisition of European-based Pechiney in December 2003. The aluminum company said today its 2004 earnings will be filed as US$258 million, or 69¢ per common share — not US$66 million or 16¢ per share as reported February 8.

In othe news, Research in Motion siad it will pay NTP Inc. US$450 million to settle a three-year-old patent lawsuit over RIM’s BlackBerry wireless e-mail device.

On Tuesday, the Toronto stock market faded in the last 20 minutes of trading to close in the red, while U.S. stocks fell victim to worries about inflation and higher interest rates.

At close, Toronto’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 6.09 points or 0.06% to 9,709.27, while the junior S&P/TSX Venture composite index slid 5.11 points or 0.26% to 1,972.18.

In New York, the Dow industrial average lost 59.41 points or 0.55% at 10,745.10. The Nasdaq fell 16.06 points or 0.78% at 2,034.98, while the S&P 500 index was down 9.08 points or 0.75% to 1,197.75.

In Toronto, stocks spent most of the day in the black thanks in part to a major deal in the telecommunications industry. Telesystem International Wireless Inc. of Montreal said it is selling its two key assets to British based Vodafone Group PLC. The British-based company is paying US$3.5 billion in cash and assuming a pile of debt to take control of Romanian mobile phone group MobiFon and Czech wireless group Oskar Mobil. TIW shares jumped 52¢ or 2/9% to $18.47, pushing the telecommunications sub-group to a gain of 0.62% on the day.

Elsewhere, mining stocks advanced 1.12%, while financials gained 0.25%. Technology stocks and utilities were the biggest losers, falling 0.73% and 0.92% respectively.