European stock markets fell in initial deals on Thursday, mirroring drops on Wall Street and in Asia on the prospect of a hike in US interest rates sooner than expected.
London's benchmark FTSE 100 index fell 0.40 percent to 6,546.73 points.
The CAC 40 in Paris shed 0.76 percent to 4,275.26 points and Frankfurt's DAX 30 lost 0.66 percent to 9,215.70 compared with Wednesday's closing values.
Wrapping up a two-day policy meeting on Wednesday, the US Federal Reserve said it would cut a further $10 billion from its monthly stimulus programme, as widely predicted.
But Fed chief Janet Yellen rattled markets by saying the time frame for raising US interest rates could be "on the order of around six months" after the stimulus ends.
With the stimulus likely to wrap up by year's end, Yellen's comments suggest a hike to the Fed's main interest rate in early 2015. Expectations had been for an increase late next year.
Wall Street closed lower in reaction, while Asian stock markets ended with large falls on Thursday.