European stocks fell Thursday on weakness in the banking sector as investors reacted to President Trump's woes and the mixed messages coming from the U.S. Federal Reserve in its latest round of meeting minutes.

The latest Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes, released Wednesday after European markets had already closed, showed a growing consensus among rate-setters that it might be time for the U.S. central bank to begin lightening its balance sheet, while also casting policymakers as increasingly uneasy over the path of U.S. inflation. 

There was discussion among policymakers of a possible need to slow the pace of rate hikes in almost the same breath as they considered dumping some of the $4.2 trillion of Treasuries and mortgage bonds that the central bank picked up during the course of its quantitative-easing program.

"Although several participants were prepared to announce a starting date for the program at the current meeting, most preferred to defer that decision until an upcoming meeting while accumulating additional information on the economic outlook and developments potentially affecting financial markets," the minutes read.

The Fed message, combined with renewed divisions within the White House, helped to pull the FTSE 100 down by 0.61% in London to close at 7,387.87. The CAC 40 index shed 0.57% to 5,146.85 in Paris, while the DAX dropped 0.49% to 12,203.46 in Frankfurt. Over in Southern Europe, the IBEX was down 0.95% in Madrid, while the FTSE MIB shed 0.89% in Milan.

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