The major futures indexes suggested a decline of 0.3% when Wall Street trading begins for the day.
The Federal Reserve's latest survey of the nation’s business conditions, dubbed the "Beige Book," said U.S. economic activity "downshifted" in July and August.
The Fed said the slowdown was largely attributable to a pullback in dining out, travel and tourism in most parts of the country, reflecting concerns about the spread of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.
The latest Beige Book will be used by Fed policymakers at their next meeting Sept. 21-22 to help them decide how to move interest rates and whether to end the $120 billion monthly bond purchases the central bank has been making since the pandemic started, to help lower long-term interest rates.
New economic data will be released before the opening bell.
The Labor Department will release its count of new claims for unemployment benefits for last week. Expectations are for 335,000, a slight decline of 5,000 from the prior week’s total of 340,000 that would be the lowest since March 14, 2020. Continuing claims, which track the total number of unemployed workers collecting benefits, are anticipated to drop by 4,000 to a pandemic low of 2.744 million.
The European Central Bank concludes its meeting today and may announce an initial step towards reducing its emergency economic support.
In Europe, London's FTSE fell 1.2%, Germany's DAX declined 0.2% and France's CAC was down 0.2%.
In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 fell 0.6%, the Hang Seng lost 2.3% and China's Shanghai Composite index edged 0.5% higher.
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 slipped 0.1% to 4,514.07, its third straight drop.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2% to 35,031.07 and the Nasdaq composite slid 0.6% to 2,249.73. The tech-heavy index's decline ended a four-day winning streak.
U.S. employers posted record job openings for the second consecutive month in July, according to the Labor Department.
In other trading, benchmark U.S. crude oil added 17 cents to $69.47 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 95 cents on Wednesday, to $69.30 per barrel.
Brent crude, the international benchmark for pricing, picked up 22 cents to $72.82 per barrel.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.