The profit outlook isn't pretty. The first estimate for third-quarter gross domestic product, due Oct. 30, is expected to show a half-percentage-point...

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The profit outlook isn’t pretty. The first estimate for third-quarter gross domestic product, due Oct. 30, is expected to show a half-percentage-point decline, according to Thomson Reuters.

Less demand for goods and services makes it harder for businesses to raise prices. This could push down profits, writes Encima Global analyst David Malpass in a report.

Aluminum maker Alcoa (AA), General Electric (GE) and heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar (CAT) recently said tough conditions weighed on quarterly performance.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 is on track to post its fifth consecutive decline in quarterly earnings. This hasn’t happened since the period ending in the second quarter of 2002, says Thomson Reuters analyst John Butters.

In the 13 recessions since 1935, GDP has declined an average of 2.1 percent and pulled down corporate profit by 19.6 percent, writes JPMorgan Chase strategist Thomas Lee in a report. He expects earnings to bottom by mid-2009.

S&P senior index analyst Howard Silverblatt expects 2009 estimates to “drop considerably” in the next month.

Lee has trimmed his 2009 estimate to $75 per share for the S&P 500, while analysts, on average, predict $100 per share.

Lower oil prices could ease costs for businesses but will likely weigh on energy-sector earnings, a big contributor to overall corporate earnings, notes Lee.