U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Thursday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.5 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.5 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.4 percent at 4:37 a.m. EDT (0837 GMT).
* Moody's Investors Service cut its credit ratings on Berkshire Hathaway Inc
* Standard & Poor's on Wednesday cut its ratings on major U.S. mortgage insurers, after increasing its estimate for losses the companies are expected to take from mortgage loans.
* Investors were bracing for monthly retail sales data from the ICSC, seeking clues on the outlook for consumer spending, as well formonthly trade balance data and weekly jobless claims.
* The Japanese government should spend a bigger-than-expected 15.4 trillion yen ($154 billion) on economic stimulus, the country's ruling party said, boosting stocks in sectors seen benefiting from the higher spending. The stimulus plan, which aims to tackle Japan's deepest recession since World War Two, represents 3.1 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).
* European stocks were flat in morning trade, but banks and insurers such as Barclays
* The banking sector was in focus in Europe. The German government offered to take over stricken bank Hypo Real Estate
* Morgan Stanley's
* Three bidders remain for General Motors Corp's
* U.S. Bancorp
* U.S. shares ended a two-session drop on Wednesday on news Washington is shoring up life insurers and optimism about consumer spending after Bed Bath & Beyond Inc
* The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> added 47.55 points, or 0.61 percent, to 7,837.11. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 9.61 points, or 1.18 percent, to 825.16. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> shot up 29.05 points, or 1.86 percent, to 1,590.66.
(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; editing by Karen Foster)