Investors came back from the holiday determined to focus on a possible interest rate cut in the United States while putting the ever-present trade tensions to one side.
The rate expectations stirred plenty of activity among real estate investment trusts (Reits) and helped lift the Straits Times Index (STI) 3.81 points or 0.1 per cent to 3,146.18 yesterday.
It was a mixed bunch elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific. Australia and Hong Kong closed higher, while China ended in negative territory and Japan was flat. Markets in Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea were closed.
Volumes here clocked in at 1.14 billion shares worth $1.54 billion, with gainers outpacing decliners 222 to 168 and only 12 of the STI's 30 components ending in the red.
The growing likelihood that the US Federal Reserve may cut rates to sustain economic expansion made local Reits a hive of activity.
Most traded above their average daily volumes, with top gainers including CapitaLand Mall Trust, up 4.5 per cent to $2.57, and Mapletree Commercial Trust, ahead 3 per cent to $2.03.
"Reits outperformed the benchmark on rate cut expectations," said CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang.
But traders said they felt Reits were overbought yesterday, advising clients to take profit on some counters.
That said, RHB Research Institute and Jefferies analysts noted that Reits were preferred, given the environment of slowing growth and uncertainty on trade issues.
Genting Singapore was the benchmark index's most traded stock, with 47.4 million shares changing hands as the counter added 0.6 per cent to 86.5 cents. Market watchers noted that the casino operator's shares were hovering around an eight-month low, and valuations were below five-year averages.
Singtel continued to trend upwards, gaining 1.3 per cent to $3.25. The telco has been outperforming the STI in recent weeks as investors continue to shift to more defensively positioned stocks.
Banks returned from the break lower. DBS Bank edged down 0.1 per cent to $24.25, OCBC Bank fell 0.6 per cent to $10.57 and UOB finished at $23.96, 0.2 per cent lower.
RHB Research Institute's Shekhar Jaiswal said the STI has the highest yield among regional markets. Valuations were also compelling compared with other regional markets. But given the environment, investors should stick to defensive picks.