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.