THIRD quarter earnings season is well and truly under way, and this week we are faced with a barrage of results from both sides of the pond. <br /><br />In the UK we have BP reporting tomorrow, BG Group and GlaxoSmithkline on Wednesday and AstraZeneca and Royal Dutch Shell out on Thursday. <br /><br />ExxonMobil, Procter and Gamble and Verizon report in the States. <br /><br />Of all these, BP and ExxonMobil will probably carry the most influence over market direction. <br /><br />With oil prices averaging around half where they were this time last year, BP is looking at underlying profits for the quarter of around £1.9bn - around a third of the number reported a year ago. <br /><br />But it’s the US GDP number, out on Thursday, which will be prime focus on traders’ radars this week. <br /><br />After last Friday’s surprisingly low number released by the UK, we can expect to see some apprehension creeping into the markets ahead of Thursday’s release, with traders pricing in an increased likelihood of a similarly disappointing US number. Overall, expectations however are still positive, with hopes high for a first quarter of growth to be posted since the second quarter of 2008. <br /><br />We can expect plenty of pre-announcement media hype, along the lines that the number could well represent the end of the longest recession in post-World War <br />Two history, but I see the downside as having more potential here.