(Alliance News) - Stocks in London are set to drift lower on Tuesday, amid muted trade in Asian markets, with no direction from Wall Street given the US public holiday on Monday.

IG says futures indicate the FTSE 100 to open down 5.2 points at 7,723.30 on Tuesday. The index of London large-caps closed up 16.79 points, 0.2%, at 7,728.50 on Monday.

Sterling was quoted at USD1.2588 early Tuesday, flat from USD1.2589 at the London equities close on Monday. The euro traded at USD1.0772, higher than USD1.0764. Against the yen, the dollar was quoted at JPY150.41, up versus JPY150.17.

US financial markets were closed on Monday for Washington's birthday.

In Asia on Tuesday, the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo closed down 0.3%. In China, the Shanghai Composite was up 0.5%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was up 0.2%.

China's central bank cut a key benchmark lending rate used to price mortgages, as Beijing seeks to rescue its housing market from a deepening crisis and boost flagging growth in the country's economy.

The five-year loan prime rate was lowered from 4.2% to 3.95%, the People's Bank of China announced, in the first cut since June. It is the largest cut to the rate since it was introduced in 2019, according to Bloomberg, deeper than that expected by economists polled by the financial newswire.

"The cut to the 5-year LPR is likely aimed at supporting the recovery of the property market, and could improve affordability for buyers by lowering the mortgage rates," ING explained.

The one-year LPR, which serves as a benchmark for corporate loans, remained unchanged at 3.45%.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney closed down 0.1%, with BHP falling 1.1% upon releasing its half-year results.

The Melbourne, Australia-based resource miner said attributable profit dropped 86% to USD927 million in the six months to December 31, from USD6.46 billion the prior year.

The sharp drop stemmed from a non-cash impairment charge of USD2.5 billion against the carrying value of Western Australia Nickel, the company's Australian nickel business unit. BHP also recorded an income statement charge of USD3.2 billion in relation to the fatal failure in 2015 at the company's jointly-owned Samarco dam in southeastern Brazil.

BHP cut its interim dividend by 20% to 72 cents from 90 cents.

Gold was quoted at USD2,019.53 an ounce early Tuesday, slightly higher than USD2,013.67 on Monday. Brent oil was trading at USD83.56 a barrel, little changed from USD83.53.

In Tuesday's UK corporate calendar, there will be full-year results from Antofagasta, Barclays, and InterContinental Hotels.

From the US later on Tuesday, there will be results full-year from Home Depot and Walmart. Investors are also keenly awaiting Nvidia's annual results, which are due on Wednesday after the closing bell in New York.

By Elizabeth Winter, Alliance News deputy news editor

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