U.S. stock index futures slipped on Thursday, a day after Wall Street closed at record levels, as a spike in the number of deaths and new cases related to the coronavirus outbreak in China sent investors scurrying to safe-haven assets.
Gold and the Japanese yen were in demand as a change in a diagnostic method pushed the number of new infections in Hubei province of China to 14,840 on Thursday, up from 2,015 cases reported on Wednesday while the death toll climbed to 1,367.
Fresh uncertainty about the scale of the epidemic looked set to derail a rally in stocks, a day after investors bought on signs that the virus-spread was slowing.
The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq have set closing highs in the past three sessions while the Dow Jones Industrial finished at an all-time high on Wednesday.
Adding to the downbeat mood was a lackluster revenue and profit forecast from Dow component Cisco Systems Inc.
The network gear maker's shares dropped 4.8% in premarket trading.
NetApp Inc tumbled 11.7% as the data storage equipment maker's current-quarter profit forecast fell short of expectations.
At 7:15 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 205 points, or 0.69%. S&P 500 e-minis were down 22.5 points, or 0.67% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 76.25 points, or 0.79%.
Losses were broad based with most of the Dow components trading before the bell in negative territory, barring Caterpillar Inc.
The construction and mining equipment maker's shares edged 0.2% higher after Goldman Sachs upgraded to "buy".
On the economic front, the Labor Department's inflation report for January is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. ET (1330 GMT). Consumer price index is expected to have edged up 0.2%, same as in December.