Dow Jones industrial futures are down 21 points to 15,815. S&P futures have lost 2 points to 1,778.80. Nasdaq futures are down 4.5 points to 3,466.
The Labor Department is expected to report that more Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, but applications remain near six-year lows.
Yet many economists expect that retail sales, which have been lagging, may have ticked up last month.
The Commerce Department will release November retail sales numbers at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time. Unemployment applications will be released at the same time.
The U.S. also reports October business inventories on Thursday.