Rising tensions in eastern Ukraine were adding to the unsettled tone. European, U.S., Russian and Ukrainian officials are meeting in Geneva Thursday to try to find ways to resolve the crisis. President Obama has warned of new sanctions against Russia if the talks fail.
"A double earnings miss from Google and IBM following the U.S. market close, comments from the Chinese premier suggesting that the government will keep its policies unchanged, and an upcoming press conference from Russia's President Putin has put a small dampener on sentiment today," wrote Deutsche Bank analyst Jim Reid, in a market report.
China GDP data published Wednesday showed the world's second largest economy is slowing, but not as dramatically as some had feared.
Looking to the day ahead, earnings season continues with many large firms including Goldman Sachs(GS), Morgan Stanley(MS), General Electric(GE) and PepsiCo(PEP) reporting before the open.
In economic news, the Labor Department will release the number of jobless claims made last week at 8:30 a.m. ET. The Philadelphia Fed will release its index measuring manufacturing in the Philadelphia region at 10 a.m. ET.