Local shares snapped a two-day rally, with many regional markets also struggling.
China's latest economic data points to further growth uncertainty in the mainland while the local corporate earnings outlook offers little cheer on the home front.
The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) slumped 47.23 points, or 1.56 per cent, to 2,984.88 - falling below 3,000 points just a day after regaining that level for the first time since Aug 20.
Remisiers were unsure if the market is having a firm recovery, with Mr Alvin Yong expecting the STI to stay range-bound in the days to come.
"There's not a lot of good news on the macroeconomic front, especially with China still struggling," he said, referring to the 20.4 per cent year-on-year fall in China's September imports reported yesterday.
Along with the persistent uncertainties around the timing of an interest rate hike in the United States, the news sent many regional markets into the red.
Shanghai managed to close 0.17 per cent higher though the marginal gain came after a very volatile session, as investors weighed their anxiety with expectations for more government stimulus measures. Hong Kong pared 0.57 per cent, and Tokyo slid 1.11 per cent.
In Singapore, investors will be watching a policy announcement today by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. An easing of the Sing- dollar - as expected by many market watchers - will be a reminder that Singapore's economy is indeed facing a technical recession, which may be confirmed by growth figures also out today.
Remisier Desmond Leong said: "I think investors here had pretty much priced that concern in in last month's selldown. I think there is a chance we may have a sustained recovery, with some opportunities to take profit along the way, which the market sorely needs."
But the upcoming earnings season, which is unlikely to offer many pleasant surprises, will keep the pressure on sentiment, he said.
Top companies will start reporting their latest quarterly results starting this week with Singapore Press Holdings and CapitaLand Mall Trust, while Keppel Corp and Sembcorp Marine will do so next week.
The two offshore and marine plays were among yesterday's top losing blue chips, with Keppel Corp closing 25 cents, or 3.36 per cent, lower at $7.20 while Sembcorp Marine ended nine cents, or 3.31 per cent, weaker at $2.63.
This came as crude oil benchmark Brent pared 5 per cent overnight to US$50.06 per barrel, signifying the severity of the global commodity woes.
Other top losing blue chips included Noble Group, shedding 4.5 cents, or 8.74 per cent, to 47 cents and down for the first time since Oct 6.
But Singapore Press Holdings rose one cent, or 0.25 per cent, to $4, and Singapore Airlines gained four cents, or 0.36 per cent, to $11.02.