Stock index futures pointed to a flat to weaker start for Wall Street on Monday, with futures for the S&P 500 down 0.1 percent, while futures for the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq traded flat by 5:18 a.m. EST.

* In a move that shook confidence, ratings agency Standard & Poor's cut Japan's long-term debt rating by one notch to AA minus, saying the government lacked a coherent plan to tackle its mounting debt.

* Equities are likely to get further direction from a flurry of corporate results due on Thursday.

* should report impressive fourth-quarter sales, fueled by the holiday season, with investors watching for clues about the retailer's profit margins in 2011.

* Microsoft Corp is set to report a dip in earnings, a year after the launch of its Windows 7 operating system blew away Wall Street estimates, as sales of personal computers lag expectations and Apple Inc's iPad eats away at the fringes of its core market.

* Other companies scheduled to release earnings include Proctor & Gamble
, Caterpillar and AT&T .

* The S&P 500 <.SPX> closed at a 29-month high on Wednesday led by gains in tech and commodity shares.

* The Dow <.DJI> rose above the psychologically important 12,000 level for the first time since June 2008, but ended slightly lower.

* Covidien Plc will replace McAfee Inc in the S&P 500 index after the close of trading on a date to be announced, S&P said in a statement on Wednesday.

* Strong demand for broadband lifted first-half profits at bid target BSkyB by 26 percent, showing why Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is keen to secure its takeover deal without delay.

* Sony Corp <6758.T> unveiled a new handheld gaming device, the first to feature 3G wireless connectivity, as it battles with Nintendo's <7974.OS> best-selling DS and tries to fend off competition from smartphones including Apple Inc's iPhone.

* Drugmakers AstraZeneca and Novartis set a cautious tone for the year ahead, bracing the sector for challenging patent expiries and price pressures from U.S. health reforms.

* Potash Corp
, the world's largest fertilizer producer, said on Wednesday its board approved a three-for-one split of its common shares in a move to improve trading liquidity following a recent jump in the stock price.

* General Electric Co , is teaming up with ConocoPhillips , the third-largest U.S. oil company, and power group NRG Energy Inc to invest in early-stage energy technology companies, the Wall Street Journal said.

* Nearly all of Citigroup Inc's fourth-quarter profit came from its Asia-Pacific unit, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters, further evidence of the growth Wall Street and European banks are seeing in the region, particularly in commercial banking.

* Banks may shrink credit in order to meet tougher capital requirements, posing a serious threat to the real economy, Domenico Siniscalco, vice president of Morgan Stanley International and country head for Italy, told Reuters.

* On the macroeconomic front, weekly initial jobless claims, due at 8:30 a.m. EST, are expected to show a slight bump up to 405,000 from 404,000 the week before.

* In Europe, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top shares rose 0.2 percent. <.EU>

(Reporting by Harpreet Bhal; Editing by David Holmes)