European Shares Seen Down, Eyes on Banks, BHP


European shares looked set to open lower on Wednesday, tracking U.S. stock markets, with eyes on financials after Washington Mutual said it expects a large quarterly loss and on BHP Billiton after a report that China may plan to buy more than 9 percent of the miner.

Financial bookmakers in London were calling Britain's FTSE 100 index between 8 and 15 points lower, Germany's DAX 12 to 22 points lower, and the French CAC 40 12 to 15 points lower.

The Australian newspaper, citing unidentified sources in Beijing, said a plan to buy BHP shares was in its early stages. Chinese authorities had yet to decide which state-owned financial institution might take a lead role in seeking sellers among BHP's diverse shareholder base.

Spanish bank Banesto and Swiss glue and chemicals maker Sika start Europe's first-quarter corporate earnings reporting season.

Results are also due from British jewelery retailer Signet Group and German airline Lufthansa will report March traffic.