Europe Markets

European stocks close lower on Fed jitters; FTSE down 1.7%

Greek official: Items believed from plane

European stocks finished lower on Thursday as investors around the world digested the latest minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Fed jitters

The pan-European STOXX 600 closed down 1 percent provisionally. Traders were digesting the Fed's April minutes, published on Wednesday, in which the central bank upped the prospect of an interest rate hike in June if U.S. economic data improved. The FOMC minutes raised concerns over "Brexit" – a vote in June on whether the U.K. should leave the European Union -- as a risk that could keep rates on hold, however. Banking stocks finished around the flatline amid anticipation of what the Federal Reserve might do.

In the U.S., stocks were lower amid comments from New York Fed President William Dudley that said June is definitely a live meeting and he was quite pleased market expectations for the probability of a June or July hike had moved up. He also said the 'Brexit' vote is complicated for the Fed rate rise decision, according to Dow Jones.

Miners slide

The stronger dollar also weighed on the price of Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate, which were both trading sharply lower.

While several oil and gas names were lower, France's Technip rallied over 11 percent after it announced an all-stock merger with U.S. rival FMC Technologies.

Metals were also under pressure on Thursday, sending basic resources stocks into negative territory. Precious metals miner Fresnillo finished down 7 percent after Citigroup cut its outlook on the stock from "neutral" to "sell". Gold miner Randgold Resources was also sharply lower.

EgyptAir flight disappears

Elsewhere, the disappearance of an EgyptAir flight between Paris and Cairo was in focus. Egyptian airline EgyptAir said in the early hours of Thursday that its flight MS804 had "disappeared from radar." In a Facebook post in Arabic, EgyptAir said that the plane - an Airbus A320 - was carrying 59 passengers and 10 crew members. Please check our report for the latest updates.

Many stocks in the sector were lower on concerns over the impact this could have on tourism. Tui AG, InterContinental and Accor hotel group, all finished lower.

Elsewhere in the travel space, holiday firm Thomas Cook said bookings for the summer are down 5 percent after its loss before tax narrowed in the first quarter to £288 million ($420 million) from £303 million in the same time last year. Shares clsoed down 17 percent.

Bayer slides

In Germany, Henkel reiterated its 2016 guidance after reporting a 6.2 percent rise in first quarter earnings before interest and tax. Shares closed slightly higher.

German chemicals group Merck finished up nearly 5 percent after it said first-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 27 percent.

Elsewhere, Swiss private bank Julius Baer said assets under management rose 2 percent in the first fourth months of the year to 305 billion Swiss francs ($308.7 billion). Shares reversed earlier losses to finish higher.

In other news, the world's biggest seed company Monsanto confirmed that it has received an offer from German drug chemical maker Bayer on Wednesday. It didn't disclose terms of the approach, but an acquisition would likely be bigger in value than a deal struck by ChemChina in February to buy Swiss company Syngenta for $43 billion, Reuters reported. Bayer shares closed 8.2 percent lower.

On the data front, U.K. April retail sales rose 4.3 percent year-on-year, and were up 1.3 percent month-on-month, beating market forecasts.

—CNBC's Evelyn Cheng contributed to this article.

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