But the Dow was pointing to a positive start, helped by solid earnings from Pfizer(PFE), which reported better-than-expected earnings, though sales fell short of estimates.
Earnings season is in full swing: Ford (F) shares rose after the automaker reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings that matched last year's results.
Comcast(CCV) reported a jump in quarterly sales and earnings.
DuPont(DD) reported a jump in quarterly sales and operating earnings, propelled by insecticide sales in Latin America as well as earlier seed shipments. The company also announced a $5 billion share buyback.
After the close, results are due from Yahoo(YHOO), AT&T(T) and Electronic Arts(EA).
The turmoil has been sparked, in part, by the U.S. Federal Reserve's plans to reign in the flow of cheap money. The markets expect the Fed to announce a further cut to its bond-buying program Wednesday, which could prompt a withdrawal of cash from vulnerable emerging markets.
"With all this [turmoil] in the background and ahead of tomorrow's Fed policy meeting in which most in the market now expect a further reduction of the bond-buying program by $10 billion, it's a no-brainer that asset allocators around the world are shedding their emerging market holdings," said Ishaq Siddiqi, a market strategist at ETX Capital in London.
In economic news, the U.S. Census Bureau is set to release its monthly report on durable goods orders at 8:30 a.m. ET. The Case-Shiller 20-city home price index is due at 9 a.m. ET, while the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index comes out at 10 a.m. ET.
President Obama will give his annual State of the Union message at 9 p.m. ET.