LONDON, May 21 (Reuters) - European shares were seen opening lower on Thursday, broadly tracking Asia and Wall Street, after minutes from last month's Federal Reserve meeting offered little to alter market expectations of the timing of an interest-rate hike.
At 0610 GMT, EuroSTOXX 50 index futures, German DAX futures and French CAC 40 futures were all down 0.3 percent. UK FTSE futures were flat.
Data also showed that manufacturing activity in Asia's top two economic powerhouses remained stuck in low gear in May, though an absence of inflation pressures suggested that authorities could inject yet more stimulus if needed.
On the European economic data front, traders awaited preliminary manufacturing and services PMI numbers for France and Germany for May, as well as UK retail sales.
"(There is) some concern that the recent recovery seen in some of the Q1 data could start to plateau in Q2," said Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets.
Germany's Deutsche Bank is set to hold what promises to be a stormy annual general meeting later on Thursday after reshuffling its management board, consolidating restructuring authority under co-Chief Executive Anshu Jain while bidding farewell to retail banking head Rainer Neske.
The German lender reshuffled its management board late on Wednesday, consolidating restructuring authority under co-Chief Executive Anshu Jain while bidding farewell to its retail banking head Rainer Neske.
Monsanto Co, the world's largest seed company, said on Wednesday it plans to divest Syngenta Ag's seeds and genetic traits businesses as well as some overlapping chemistry assets to win regulatory approval for a takeover of its Swiss rival.
The insurer said it was still on track to reach its 2016 strategic objectives, helped by additional cost cuts, after it fell short of its key return on equity goal last year.
A U.S. regulator has granted a series of waivers five major banks including UBS, allowing them to continue their usual securities business, after they agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges.
Emerging Europe's second-biggest lender said first-quarter profit fell by nearly half.
The CEO of General Electric said he was confident the Alstom deal was going to get approved and said he now expected $3 billion in cost savings and other benefits five years after the completion of the deal, up from $1.2 billion.
The network operator said it would sell up to 40 percent of its Infrastrutture Wireless Italiane (INWIT) tower unit in an initial public offering on the Milan bourse.
The drugmaker and partner Regeneron unveiled "positive topline results" from late-stage Phase III studies of their sarilumab drug in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------ > GLOBAL MARKETS-Japan shares set fresh 15-year high, dollar holds gains after Fed minutes > US STOCKS-Dow, S&P 500 end slightly lower after Fed minutes > Nikkei set for 5th day of gains; Panasonic soars on auto investments > TREASURIES-U.S. bonds rise as Fed minutes hint June rate hike unlikely > FOREX-Dollar not far from 2-week high, takes Fed minutes in its stride > PRECIOUS-Gold steady above $1,200 as June rate hike prospects dim > METALS-Copper up from 3-week low as weak China PMI spurs stimulus bets > Oil edges up after US crude stocks fall; China data weigh
Reporting by Lionel Laurent