There will be several stocks ready for ignition Wednesday for those investors looking for more fireworks after the Independence Day holiday. General Motors ( GM) is set to once again be in focus. The No. 1 U.S. automaker posted a 26% drop in June U.S. sales after the bell Monday, and the market will be looking for potential developments on an alliance with a foreign-based competitor. Nissan's board of directors approved the opening of talks with GM on Monday, allowing for the potential of turning the Japanese automaker's current partnership with France's Renault into a global triumvirate. Activist shareholder Kirk Kerkorian of Tracinda Corp. voiced approval for the proposed alliance last week, and Bloomberg reported that Kerkorian has lost confidence in the current GM CEO, Rick Wagoner. Considering his representation on the company's board of directors, Kerkorian's endorsement lends credence to speculation that a deal could be reached. Alongside the drama unfolding at GM, Wall Street will digest a weekly report on crude inventories from the government on Wednesday. Last week, the Energy Department reported an unexpected drop of 1 million barrels in gasoline inventories, while crude stockpiles fell by 3.4 million barrels. Such data have the potential to roil the already volatile energy markets and, in turn, move shares of oil giants like Exxon Mobil ( XOM). Elsewhere, British Airways ( BAB) will release its traffic statistics for June on Wednesday, which could get its shares moving. The carrier has said it's being investigated by competition officials in the U.S. and U.K. over ticket prices and fuel surcharges. Other airline carriers, like American Airlines ( AMR), are expected to report June traffic results sometime this week. After Wednesday's closing bell, biopharmaceutical outsourcing company Parexel ( PRXL) will issue earnings guidance for fiscal 2007 and other periods. Analysts forecast earnings of 88 cents a share for 2006 and $1.15 a share for 2007, according to Thomson First Call.
Also, a slew of teen-apparel retailers will report their sales results for June after the close Wednesday as a precursor to the flood of sales tallies from the nation's chain stores that will come out Thursday. Investors in Hot Topic ( HOTT) will look to see if the alternative-apparel seller can break out of a string of dismal results. American Eagle Outfitters ( AEOS) and Aeropostale ( ARO) are also among the early reporters. In general, the retail sector could see some froth on Wednesday in anticipation of sales results, as investors remain sensitive to any unexpected weaknesses in consumer spending amid high gas prices, rising interest rates and a softening housing market. The world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart ( WMT), got nerves rattling over the weekend when it estimated that sales at its stores open at least a year rose just 1.2% in June, coming in at the low end of its expectation for 1% to 3% growth.