Hawkish BoE Minutes Lead European Shares Lower

U.K.'s FTSE 100 index headed for a third straight day of losses on Wednesday, after hawkish minutes from the Bank of England indicated that some bank officials will soon be ready to vote for a rate hike.

The FTSE 100 index fell 0.2% to 6,789.13, heading for the lowest close since late April.

Posting the biggest loss in the benchmark, shares of Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC dropped 2.8% after Deutsche Bank cut the food retailer to sell from hold. The analysts argued that after a 10% rally over the past two weeks, there aren't enough strong fundamentals to push the stock higher.

Also on the decline, shares of BHP Billiton PLC (BHP) fell 0.4% after the mining giant warned on a potential strike among tugboat workers at Australia's largest iron-ore port. Other miners were also lower, with shares of Antofagasta PLC down 1.5% and Glencore Xstrata PLC (GLCNF) 1.3% lower.

On a more upbeat note, shares of Burberry Group PLC (BURBY) advanced 1.6% after the luxury-goods firm reported a 17% rise in full-year revenue and said it would invest in opening more stores in Japan.

More broadly, investors in the U.K. digested the latest minutes from the Bank of England, which economists at Berenberg said had a hawkish tone. All nine members of the Monetary Policy Committee voted in favor of keeping interest rates at a record low of 0.5% and making no changes to the 375 billion pound ($632 billion) quantitative-easing program at the meeting earlier in May, but the minutes showed there was a range of views on the future interest-rate path.

Further strengthening the case for a rate hike, data showed U.K. retail-sales annual growth was the strongest in almost a decade in April.

The pound (GBPUSD) rose after the minutes and the retail data, trading at $1.6896, up from $1.6842 late Tuesday.