Following a dour May, the local benchmark index managed to register modest gains in the first trading session of June, but trade worries and global growth concerns continue to hang over investor sentiment.
The Straits Times Index (STI) closed at 3,123.46, up 5.7 points after four straight sessions of losses.
"The local benchmark index was noticeably oscillating near neutral throughout the day, with the sector performance mixed," IG market strategist Pan Jingyi observed.
Market watchers have also said the STI is finding support above the 3,100 level.
Investors in the region have been jittery in recent weeks as trade tensions between the US and China are not showing signs of cooling.
Washington also ramped up its offensive on Mexico and said it would not offer preferential trade treatment to India from tomorrow, in a bid to pressure New Delhi to increase market access for US goods.
Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, equity markets were mixed. Australia, China and Japan posted losses. Malaysia and South Korea finished higher. Hong Kong was flat.
"The Caixin manufacturing PMI (purchasing managers' index) surprise coupled with the softening of the US dollar at the start of the week provided some breathing room for Asia markets that had led to the rather mixed bag we are seeing across the region," Ms Pan said.
In Singapore, trading volume clocked in at 1.06 billion securities, 83 per cent of the daily average in the first four months of the year. Total turnover came to $880.8 million, 86 per cent above the January-to-April daily average.
CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang noted that trading volumes remained low as "cautious sentiment and trade uncertainties kept investors and traders away from the market, inhibiting risk-taking activities".
Across the market, decliners outpaced advancers 210 to 143. The STI fared better, having 12 of its 30 components in the red.
Genting Singapore was the most traded stock, with 29.7 million shares changing hands. The casino operator was unchanged at 87 cents.
The local banks were mixed. DBS Group Holdings ended 23 cents down at $24.06. Meanwhile, OCBC Bank edged up two cents higher at $10.59 and United Overseas Bank closed at $23.59, adding nine cents.
Despite market uncertainty, most real estate investment trusts were up, with CapitaLand Commercial Trust up five cents to $1.98, and Frasers Centrepoint Trust up 10 cents to $2.52.