European stocks fell this morning as Federal Reserve minutes released after European markets closed appeared to increase the chances of a June rate rise.
Benchmark indices followed much of Asia lower even after rising American banking stocks meant that U.S. indices had largely taken the minutes in their stride.
In London, the FTSE 100 was recently down 1.30% at 6,085.52, with the decliners dominated by mining and oil stocks, led by Anglo American. The U.K.'s Office for National Statistics figures on April retail sales came in much stronger than expected, with sales rising rising 4.2% excluding fuel from a year earlier.
In Frankfurt, the Dax was down 1.66% at 9,778.14 and in Paris the Cac 40 fell 0.91% to 4,279.89.
West Texas intermediate was recently down 1.19% at $47.23 per barrel.
S&P 500 mini futures were recently down 0.40%.
Analysts are watching later today for a European Central Bank monetary policy account report, and from the U.S. for initial weekly jobless claim figures, which are tipped to show 294,000 new claims.
Oil field services company Technip (TKPPY) rose more than 11% in Paris after it unveiled an outline merger agreement with FMC Technologies (FTI) - Get Report under which shareholders in the French company appear to fare better than investors in its Houston, Texas counterpart.
But German pharmaceuticals company MerckKgAA - not to be confused with New York-listed Merck (MRK) - Get Report - was up close to 3% after beating first-quarter expectations on the back of its purchase of Sigma-Aldrich.
On the FTSE 100, Royal Mail (ROYMF) was the second-biggest decliner, falling more than 5% after reporting that full-year profit slumped by a third and warning of a challenging outlook.
The U.K.'s National Grid (NGG) - Get Report (NGGTF) fell more than 2% in London after releasing full-year figures in line with expectations, including a 9% rise in pretax profit to £3.14 billion ($4.6 billion).
Tour operator Thomas Cook plunged almost 18% after it warned that underlying full-year earnings would be at the low end of expectations amid a slump in bookings to Turkey.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng closed down 0.74% at 19,680.26.
On mainland China the CSI 300 composite closed down 0.18% at 3,062.50.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 closed up 0.01% 16,646.66 and the Topix fell 0.23% to 850.07.