At around 6:20 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Dow futures indicated a negative open of more than 350 points. Futures on the S&P and Nasdaq also pointed to a weak open.
The moves in pre-market trade come after a private sector survey showed manufacturing activity in the world's second-largest economy contracted for the first time in 19 months. China's Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for December dipped to 49.7 from 50.2 in November.
The weaker-than-expected data follows a poor official survey on factory output, compounding concerns about a possible economic slowdown this year.
Wall Street concluded trading in 2018 on Monday, with all major stock indexes registering their worst yearly performances since the financial crisis.
Despite solid gains on Monday, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 6.2 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively, for 2018. Both indexes posted their biggest annual losses since 2008, when they plunged 38.5 percent and 33.8 percent, respectively.
The Nasdaq Composite lost 3.9 percent in 2018, its worst year in a decade, when it dropped 40 percent.
On the data front, investors are likely to closely monitor manufacturing PMI data for December at around 9:45 a.m. ET.
— CNBC's Fred Imbert contributed to this report.