Asian share markets slumped on Thursday and European stocks were poised for a lower open after Federal Reserve meeting minutes pointed to a faster-than-expected rise in US interest rates due to concerns about persistent inflation.

US stocks sold off overnight after investors interpreted minutes from the Fed's December meeting as being more hawkish than expected.

Fed policymakers said a "very tight" job market and unabated inflation might require it to raise interest rates sooner than expected and begin reducing its overall asset holdings as a second brake on the economy, the minutes showed.

"Of course if you're pricing in a faster price pace of Fed tapering, that doesn't translate well for Asian asset classes so you are likely going to see more outflows from the region, which will translate both into weaker equities and also depreciatory pressures on the FX front," said Carlos Casanova, senior economist for Asia at Union Bancaire Privee in Hong Kong.

Worries over higher US rates combined with growing concerns about the rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant to weigh on riskier assets. 

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell nearly 1.5 percent in afternoon trade before paring some losses. Australian shares slid 2.74 percent in their biggest daily percentage drop since early September 2020, and Japan's Nikkei stock index fell 2.88 percent, its biggest daily fall since June.

European shares were also set to open sharply lower, with pan-region Euro Stoxx 50 futures down 2.07 percent in early trade. German DAX futures fell 1.7 percent and FTSE futures shed 1.43 percent.

The minutes showed Fed officials were uniformly concerned about the pace of price increases that promised to persist, alongside global supply bottlenecks "well into" 2022. 

The Nasdaq plunged more than 3 percent on Wednesday in its biggest one-day percentage drop since February and the S&P 500 fell the most since Nov. 26, when news of the Omicron variant first hit global markets.