U.S. shares were set to open higher with Dow futures up less than 0.2% at 25,151. S&P 500 futures were up 0.3% to 2,788. Investors have been worried that the trade war between the U.S. and China will derail global economic and corporate profit growth as it drags on with no sign of a resolution.
"The cracks in global equity markets threatened to grow wider still as relentless haven-buying of sovereign bonds overnight pushed key yields even lower and sent recession fears through stocks," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 dropped 0.3% to finish at 20,942.53. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.7% to 6,392.10. South Korea's Kospi edged up 0.8% to 2,038.80. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.3% at 27,149.04, while the Shanghai Composite lost 0.3% to 2,905.81.
The U.S. market has been heading steadily lower this month as prospects for the economy have dimmed and as traders get more worried about the lingering trade feud between Washington and Beijing. In early May the U.S. and China concluded their 11th round of trade talks with no agreement. The U.S. then more than doubled duties on $200 billion of Chinese products, and China responded by raising its own tariffs.
Later Thursday, investors will be watching for the U.S. Commerce Department's second GDP estimate for the January-March quarter. The first estimate came in at a better-than-expected 3.2%, despite ongoing trade disputes, and analysts for FactSet expect the second estimate to remain unchanged.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 13 cents to $58.94. It fell 0.6% to settle at $58.81 a barrel Wednesday. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 37 cents to $67.50 per barrel. CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 109.69 Japanese yen from 109.31 yen on Wednesday. The euro weakened to $1.1138 from $1.1154.
Matt Ott in Madrid contributed to this report.