U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street on Monday, as investors take a breather after the market posted its best weekly gains in a year and ahead of the start of the earnings season, to be kicked off by Alcoa after U.S. closing bell today.

* At 4:40 a.m. ET, futures for the S&P 500 were down 0.5 percent, Dow Jones futures down 0.3 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures down 0.6 percent.

* Alcoa, the largest U.S. aluminum producer, is expected to turn a second-quarter profit after a year-ago loss, but analysts have recently been cutting their forecasts as the company faces a sharp drop in aluminum prices.

* Overall, analysts expect 27 percent growth in earnings on the S&P 500 for the second quarter according to Thomson Reuters data, up from previous readings in the past three quarters, which hovered around 22 percent.

* China's exports rose 43.9 percent in June from a year earlier and imports were up 34.1 percent, the General Administration of Customs said on Saturday.

* BP Plc is in talks with U.S. oil and gas company Apache Corp and other companies over potential asset sales, a source familiar with the situation said on Sunday, as it weighs how to pay costs related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

* BP, which is making progress with a new containment system for its ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico, said on Monday the cost of the spill had risen to about $3.5 billion.

* U.S. office products retailer Staples Inc will complete a proposed deal to buy Corporate Express Australia , the company said on Sunday without disclosing the terms of the deal.

* U.S. crude oil futures fell below $76 a barrel on Monday, after gaining more than 5 percent last week, as traders locked in profits ahead of earnings season and fresh U.S. economic data.

* Japan's Nikkei average <.N225> inched lower on Monday while European stocks dipped in morning trade following stellar gains last week ahead of the start of the earnings season.

* Wall Street closed out its best week in a year on Friday, snapping back from a long stretch of selling, as investors looked ahead to what many expect will be a solid earnings season.

* The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 59.04 points, or 0.58 percent, at 10,198.03. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 7.70 points, or 0.72 percent, at 1,077.95. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 21.05 points, or 0.97 percent, at 2,196.45.

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Mike Nesbit)