U.S. stocks poised for sharp sell-off

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It's getting ugly out there.

European markets are falling fast and U.S. crude oil futures are down nearly 3%, sinking back below $27 a barrel. Investors are rushing to assets such as gold and bonds, traditionally seen as safe havens, after Fed Chair Janet Yellen said market turmoil and the stronger dollar could hurt the U.S. economy.

U.S. stock futures are down by between 1.5% and 2%.

Here are the six things you need to know before the opening bell rings in New York:

Related: Fear & Greed Index

1. Market mayhem: European markets are suffering in early trading. London fell more than 2%, Frankfurt more than 3% and Paris as much as 4%. The few Asian markets open also fell, led by Hong Kong's Hang Seng which closed down 3.8% on its first day after the Chinese New Year holiday.

2. Banks bashed: Societe Generale (SCGLF) shares plummeted as much as 13% at the start of trading as it warned of a tougher 2016. Other banks are also back on the skids: Standard Chartered (SCBFF) is down more than 6%.

3. Stock market movers -- Twitter, Tesla, Total, Adidas, Opera: Twitter (TWTR) shares lost as much as 15% in after hours trading after the micro blogging site reported Wednesday that it lost 2 million users in the last three months of 2015. Tesla (TSLA) shares climbed as much as 13.5% during extended trading after an earnings update that assured investors it can start turning a profit in 2016.

Total (TOT) shares are down more than 1.5% after reporting mixed results for 2015 as energy majors scramble for profits with oil prices plummeting. Adidas (ADDDF) shares are up nearly 3% after raising its guidance for 2016 on the back up of better sales in the U.S. Opera (OPESF) soared by 40% after Chinese investors offered $1.2 billion to buy the company behind the Opera browser.

4. Earnings and economics: Among the companies reporting quarterly results this morning are Alcatel-Lucent (ALU), Pepsi (PEP), Kellogg (K), Thomson Reuters (TRI) and Time (TIME). After the markets close, reports are expected from CBS (CBS) and Groupon (GRPN).

Weekly jobless claims data is due from the federal government at 8:30 am ET. Then, at 10:30 am ET, the new figures on U.S. natural gas inventories will be available.

5. The Fed: Janet Yellen continues her testimony on Capitol Hill. On Wednesday she told lawmakers there are plenty of headwinds for the U.S. economy.

Related: CNNMoney's Tech30

6. Wednesday market recap: The Dow Jones industrial average closed 0.6% lower, while the S&P 500 stayed flat. The Nasdaq was the sole winner, gaining 0.4%.

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