Thursday brings a fresh load of economic data and quarterly earnings from retail majors such as Best Buy, Sears and Kohl's, all of which should influence market direction, along with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's testimony to the Senate Banking Committee.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.38 percent while futures on the S&P 500 were down 0.37 percent and those on the Nasdaq were down 0.22 percent. On Wednesday, the Dow had inched up 0.12 percent and the S&P 500 had ended the day flat while the Nasdaq crawled up 0.1 percent.

On the earnings front, retail majors such as Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (NYSE:HLT), Kohl's Corp. (NYSE:KSS), Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ:SHLD), Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE:BBY) and The Wendy's Co. (NASDAQ:WEN) are among those scheduled to declare earnings before markets open. After market hours, The Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS), Ross Stores Inc. (NASDAQ:ROST) and Inc. (NYSE:CRM) are among those expected to announce earnings.

On the data front, data on durable goods orders in January and jobless claims for the week ended Feb. 22 are both due at 8:30 a.m. EST. Yellen’s address to the Senate Banking Committee begins at 10 a.m. EST, however, it's the question and answer session that will follow her prepared testimony that could move markets.

In Europe, stocks were significantly weaker with the Stoxx Europe 600 index trading down 0.91 percent while the FTSE 100 was down 0.82 percent. Germany’s DAX-30 dropped 1.42 percent and France's CAC-40 was down 0.83 percent.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei-225 fell 0.32 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.47 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 1.74 percent while the Shanghai Composite was up 0.3 percent. South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.39 percent. Markets in India were closed for a religious holiday.