Stock index futures fell on Friday ahead of the release of fourth-quarter U.S. growth data, with futures for the S&P 500, Dow Jones and Nasdaq all down by around 0.2 percent by 4:35 a.m. ET.

* U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) figures, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, will be closely watched for evidence of the pace of economic recovery, a day after mixed U.S. data showed strength in the housing sector though unemployment benefit claims rose more than expected.

* Economists expected fourth-quarter GDP numbers to show growth picking up speed by an annual rate of 3.5 percent, though short of the pace needed to lower unemployment significantly.

* Strong corporate earnings led Wall Street to a 29-month closing high for a second day on Thursday, though another run of big gains may be harder to achieve.

* Microsoft Corp surprised Wall Street with a better-than-expected profit, but its shares stayed flat as investors expressed concern about the weakness of computer sales.

* Shares in fell 9.8 percent in extended trading after the world's biggest online retailer said its profit margins were sliding as it spends money on massive new distribution centers and acquisitions.

* Among companies to report earnings on Friday include Ford Motor Company , Honeywell and Chevron .

* Thomson Reuters data showed 71 percent of the S&P 500 <.SPX> companies that have reported earnings so far have beaten estimates.

* LinkedIn Corp announced plans to go public this year in what could be a test of investor appetite for social networking websites ahead of a highly anticipated Facebook offering.

* North American smartphone vendors Apple and RIM , along with low-cost Chinese producer ZTE <000063.SZ>, emerged as the biggest winners on the booming cellphone market in final quarter of 2010.

* Sara Lee Corp plans to split up rather than sell itself, a source familiar with the situation said on Thursday after the company failed to win lucrative enough bids from potential buyers.

* In the wake of a credit rating downgrade for Japan by Standard & Poor's on Thursday, the International Monetary Fund said Japan and the United States needed to spell out credible deficit-cutting plans before the markets lose patience and dump their bonds.

* U.S. investors seeking higher returns plowed cash into riskier domestic equity and taxable fixed-income mutual funds in the week ended January 26, while municipal bond funds suffered an eleventh week of outflows, data from Lipper showed on Thursday.

* In Europe, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top shares was down 0.3 percent in early trade as heavyweight mining shares slipped.

(Reporting by Harpreet Bhal; Editing by Erica Billingham)