U.S. stock index futures pointed to a sharply lower open on Wednesday, weighed by declines in oil prices, continued concerns about China and fresh geopolitical worries from news out of North Korea.
Dow futures fell 300 points just before 8 a.m., ET, and traded about 280 points lower after morning data reports.
The U.S. November trade deficit came in at $42.4 billion. The December ADP report showed creation of 257,000 payrolls.
Treasury yields edged off lows, with the 2-year yield briefly turning higher to top 1 percent and the 10-year yield around 2.20 percent as of 8:40 a.m., ET.
In currency markets, the U.S. dollar held a touch higher against major world currencies. The euro traded near $1.074 and the yen was at 118.54 yen against the greenback.
Overnight, the Chinese yuan plunged to a five-year low in offshore trading, sharply widening the gap with the mainland-traded yuan.
The headline Caixin China General Services PMI for December was 50.2, down 1 point from November and the lowest in 17 months, according to Markit.
Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said Wednesday morning in an interview on CNBC that North Korea's claim to have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb has increased uncertainty in the markets. He added, however, that he's unsure of the long-term impact.
Fischer said concerns about a slowdown in China's economy are perhaps more significant.
He said estimates of four hikes this year are "numbers in the ballpark."
The U.S. weekly crude oil inventories report, out at 10:30 a.m. ET, will be eyed closely and could impact prices on Wednesday.