Local investors shrugged off concerns over a global economic slowdown and trade tensions between the United States and the European Union to lift the market a smidgen yesterday.
But the Straits Times Index (STI) tumbled from a high of 3,346 in the first hour of trading. It managed to right the ship and closed at 3,330.82, up 3.17 points, or 0.1 per cent.
The early gains on the benchmark index "appear to be technically driven, with the breakout from the 3,330 resistance bringing in interest, but it appeared to be a false break", said IG market strategist Pan Jingyi.
There were 18 winners among the 30 STI constituents on a day when 1.15 billion shares worth $1.09 billion changed hands, with losers outnumbering gainers 229 to 181.
Singtel had plenty of interest, closing up 1.9 per cent at $3.17 on 29.6 million shares done.
CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang said: "The telco registered a new five-month high, and helped to lift the broad index."
Mr Brandon Leu, UOB Kay Hian's vice-president of equities and financial products, suggested that "investors are looking at a catch-up play, switching to fairly valued quality counters that have lagged behind the recent market rally".
Market watchers also noted that investors turned to profit-taking yesterday. Mr Marcus Toh, principal trading representative at Phillip Securities, said some STI counters like Keppel Corp and DBS Bank were "toppish", which explained why investors took to booking profits.
KepCorp rose 0.1 per cent to $6.66. DBS dipped 0.1 per cent to $26.93.
"Investors will probably resume buying after the market goes through a correction," he added.
Genting Singapore was the STI's most traded yet again, ending flat at 96.5 cents with 57.6 million shares changing hands.
UOB closed 0.1 per cent lower at $26.53 while OCBC Bank gained 0.1 per cent to $11.73.
Among the non-STI counters, Moya Holdings Asia was one of the biggest gainers on the day and also the bourse's most traded. The water treatment solutions provider gained 8.6 per cent to 8.8 cents.
Mr Leu said the counter's heavy trade was likely down to speculative action by investors.
Oil prices reversed yesterday. Mr Stephen Innes, SPI Asset Management's head of trading and market strategy, said crude was "moving in tandem with risk sentiment, which has turned a bit softer on the usual concerns around global growth and Brexit risks".