A robust jobs report in the United States on Friday and hopes that Beijing's fiscal stimulus will lift the Chinese economy should have given the market a boost, but investors were largely unmoved yesterday.
Profit-taking was higher on the agenda than taking new positions, as trade tensions between the US and China remain unresolved.
The caution left the Straits Times Index (STI) down 7.22 points or 0.2 per cent at 3,315.42, with only 13 of the 30 constituent blue chips ending in the black.
Trading clocked in 1.0 billion securities worth $894.96 million, with gainers pipping losers 204 to 192.
Nico Steel, the most active with 89.1 million shares traded, plunged 16.67 per cent to 0.5 cent.
Genting Singapore was the STI's most traded. The casino operator fell 0.5 per cent to 98 cents with 29.6 million shares done. It has fallen 9.2 per cent since last week's announcement of higher casino entry levies and tax rates and a $4.5 billion reinvestment plan for Resorts World Sentosa (RWS).
Credit rating agency Moody's affirmed the A3 issuer rating of Genting Singapore yesterday, with the outlook deemed stable.
Ms Jacintha Poh, Moody's lead analyst for Genting Singapore, said the company need not incur additional debt to fund its plans for RWS, but is likely to see financial flexibility for any expansion into Japan reduced. "A debt-funded expansion into Japan, however, will weaken credit quality," she added.
Financials were mixed with OCBC gaining 0.1 per cent to $11.72, but DBS dipped 0.6 per cent to $26.82, while United Overseas Bank lost 0.07 per cent to $26.50.
Market watchers noted that the three banks were all trading lower in the early session as investors took to profit-taking after the trio averaged gains of 6.1 per cent across trading last week.
Meanwhile, Singapore Post continued to trend up since announcing plans to offload its loss-making US e-commerce units. It closed 1.9 per cent higher at $1.05 - a gain of 5.5 per cent since the announcement last Wednesday.
Brent crude breached US$70 a barrel yesterday so it was of little surprise that energy pennies performed well. Rex International added 1.3 per cent to eight cents and GSS Energy put on 1.9 per cent to 10.6 cents.
However, CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang noted: "Brent oil is facing a technical resistance at around US$72.50, and the relative strength index is already showing signs that (it) may be 'overbought'."