Stock prices have been moving sideways since the U.S. Federal Reserve announced its third round of quantitative easing, or QE3, and investors are now awaiting the next big market catalyst: third-quarter earnings reports. As usual, America’s biggest aluminum producer, Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA), will kick off earnings season when it reports on Oct. 9.

Global fast-food giant Yum Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) also reports Tuesday, followed by warehouse chain Costco Wholesale Corp. (Nasdaq: COST) on Wednesday.

All eyes will then turn to JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) and Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC), with both banking behemoths due to report on Friday.

At the end of the third quarter, earnings-per-share estimates for companies in the S&P 500 were 4.5 percent lower than at the beginning of the quarter, according to FactSet. They are also 2.6 percent below what the S&P 500’s EPS were in the year-ago period.

Moreover, the rate of firms projecting below-consensus profit for the third-quarter versus better-than-expected estimates is at an 11-year high, according to Thomson Reuters via the Wall Street Journal.

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In recent weeks, several major companies -- Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT), FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) and Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE: NSC) among them -- have warned about the grim outlook for the global economy.

We ran a screen and produced a list of eight notable companies set to report their earnings Oct. 9-12. We have highlighted their expected reporting dates and times, along with analysts' EPS and revenue estimates from Reuters, as well as the stocks' year-to-date performances.

Tuesday After Market Close, or AMC:

Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) is the largest U.S. aluminum producer. The company has a market capitalization of $9.69 billion. It is expected to report fiscal year 2012 third-quarter EPS of less than 1 cent on revenue of $5.57 billion, compared with a profit of 15 cents a share on revenue of $6.42 billion in the year-ago period. Alcoa is trading at around $9.07 a share. So far this year, the stock has gained 4.97 percent.

Yum Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) is a quick-service restaurant company that owns the KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell brands. The company has a market cap of $30.27 billion. It is expected to report FY 2012 third-quarter EPS of 97 cents on revenue of $3.64 billion, compared with a profit of 83 cents a share on revenue of $3.27 billion in the year-ago period. Yum is trading around $66.4 a share. So far this year, the stock has gained 12.54 percent.

Wednesday Before Market Open, or BMO:

Costco Wholesale Corp. (Nasdaq: COST) operates membership warehouses that offer its members low prices on a limited selection of branded and selected private-label products in a range of merchandise categories. The company has a market cap of $43.88 billion. It is expected to report FY 2012 fourth-quarter EPS of $1.30 on revenue of $31.59 billion, compared with a profit of $1.08 a share on revenue of $28.18 billion in the year-ago period. Costco is trading at around $101.5 a share. So far this year, the stock has gained 21.81 percent.

Fastenal Co. (Nasdaq: FAST) is engaged in selling industrial and construction supplies, both wholesale and retail. The company has a market cap of $13.22 billion. It is expected to report FY 2012 third-quarter EPS of 37 cents on revenue of $804.9 million, compared with a profit of 33 cents a share on revenue of $726.74 million in the year-ago period. Fastenal is trading around $44.65 a share. So far this year, the stock has gained 2.38 percent.

Thursday BMO:

Safeway Inc. (NYSE: SWY) is a food and drug retailer. The company has a market cap of $3.91 billion. It is expected to report FY 2012 third-quarter EPS of 43 cents on revenue of $10.24 billion, compared with a profit of 38 cents a share on revenue of $10.06 billion in the year-ago period. Safeway is trading around $16.37 a share. So far this year, the stock has lost 22.39 percent.

Friday BMO:

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a global financial-services firm and a banking institution in the U.S. The company has a market cap of $159.13 billion. It is expected to report FY 2012 third-quarter EPS of $1.21 on revenue of $24.37 billion, compared with a profit of $1.02 a share on revenue of $24.37 billion in the year-ago period. JPMorgan is trading around $41.88 a share. So far this year, the stock has gained 25.95 percent.

Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) is a bank holding company. The company has a market cap of $189.26 billion. It is expected to report FY 2012 third-quarter EPS of 87 cents on revenue of $21.42 billion, compared with a profit of 72 cents a share on revenue of $19.63 billion in the year-ago period. Wells Fargo is trading at around $35.81 a share. So far this year, the stock has gained 30.01 percent.