PARIS, June 20 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to drop on Thursday, tracking losses on Wall Street after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke confirmed the Fed would begin winding down its stimulus measures later this year. Bernanke said the U.S. economy is growing fast enough for the central bank to begin slowing the pace of its $85 billion monthly purchases of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, with the goal of ending it in mid-2014, although he said the Fed would hold off trimming its programme if the economy deteriorated again. At 0615 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for UK's FTSE 100, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were down 1.5-1.8 percent. Bund futures were 130 ticks lower on the day at 142.14, having hit their lowest since February at 141.95 just after the session opened. U.S. shares sank on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 falling 1.4 percent, and 10-year U.S. Treasury yields surging to 2.37 percent, a fresh 15-month high. Investors have been nervous since Bernanke last month said the central bank may decide to trim its programme within the next few Fed policy meetings if data shows the economy is gaining steam, with the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index losing nearly 6 percent in the past three weeks. "The news in yesterday's statement and press conference is that there's a stronger consensus among Fed members on the need to trim down the bond buying programme, and that's a surprise," a Paris-based equity and exchange-traded fund trader said. "The silver lining is that there's more visibility now on the Fed's time frame for reducing the quantitative easing programme, but we can expect volatility to rise as people will start cutting positions on the less liquid assets, in emerging markets for instance, and in high-yield bonds." Also rattling investors on Thursday, data showed slowing Chinese manufacturing activity, with the "flash" HSBC China Purchasing Managers' Index contracted further to 48.3 in June from May's final reading of 49.2, hitting its weakest level since September, a further sign of tepid economic growth in the second quarter. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0615 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,628.93 -1.39 % -22.88 NIKKEI 13,014.58 -1.74 % -230.64 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 498.68 -2.86 % -14.67 EUR/USD 1.3266 -0.21 % -0.0028 USD/JPY 96.99 0.55 % 0.5300 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.364 -- 0.01 10-YR BUND YLD 1.557 -- 0.00 SPOT GOLD $1,343.16 -0.56 % -$7.53 US CRUDE $96.58 -1.69 % -1.66 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian stocks sag on China PMI, Fed policy plan > Wall St drops after Bernanke hints at slowing stimulus > Nikkei falls as weak China data, Fed chill sentiment > TREASURIES-Bonds pause slide after weak China factory data > FOREX-Dollar shines as Fed signals tapering of bond buying > PRECIOUS-Gold falls to 2-month lows on stimulus outlook > London copper hits near 7-week low on Fed policy, China data > Oil slips more than $1 on weak China data, Fed policy plan COMPANY NEWS: NOKIA Microsoft Corp recently talked with Nokia about buying the Finnish phone maker's devices unit, but the discussions faltered and are not likely to be revived, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday in its online edition. COMMERZBANK Germany's second-largest lender Commerzbank said on Wednesday it will cut 5,200 jobs, about 12 percent of its 45,000 full-time staff, adding to job-shedding by banks across Europe. FNAC Fnac shares were priced at 22 euros a share, valuing the book and CD retailer at 365.1 million euros, market operator NYSE Euronext said on Wednesday. Fnac shares are due to make their market debut on Thursday as part of parent Kering's decision to spin off the business. PERNOD RICARD Pernod Ricard, the world's second-biggest spirits group, said on Wednesday it would pay an interim cash dividend of 0.79 euros per share for the current 2012-13 financial year, which ends June 30. UBS, CREDIT SUISSE The Swiss National Bank welcomed measures by Credit Suisse and UBS to bolster their capital, but said leverage ratios still lag international rivals. RENAULT French carmaker Renault has pledged to slash the cost of developing future models by 30-40 percent as it rolls out a new generation of vehicle architectures with alliance partner Nissan LA CAIXA Spain's La Caixa has postponed the planned sale of a portfolio of 12,000 homes, two sources familiar with the deal said, in a sign Spanish banks are still reluctant to cut prices on property assets even after big writedowns.