The local market tried but failed to end on a positive note despite a midday surge yesterday, dragged down by the uncertain mood still pressuring key markets worldwide.
The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) closed 4.64 points or 0.16 per cent lower at 2,878.13, its third straight day of decline. In all, about 1.1 billion shares worth $904 million changed hands.
A brief bounce pushed the STI up to 2,906 by noon, before these gains were wiped out in the afternoon selldown.
Remisier Alvin Yong said: "The bulls attempted a counter-attack yesterday after days of bearish sessions. This is due partly to expectations for central banks in Asia to loosen monetary policies, and that's why we saw similar intra-day gains in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Japan." He added: "Unfortunately it couldn't hold, and Singapore was similarly dragged down."
Shanghai lost 0.2 per cent, Hong Kong fell 1.18 per cent and Tokyo ended 0.39 per cent lower.
Talk of further monetary easing has persisted amid a string of weak economic data region-wide.
In China, manufacturing activity last month was hit by the worst contraction since March 2009, according to the final Caixin purchasing managers' index reading.
In Japan, the economy shrank for a fourth straight month, official data showed.
As the signs of uneven global growth piled up, the United States markets were also spooked, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average slumping 2.84 per cent overnight.
The pace of expansion in the US manufacturing sector also slowed down, the Institute for Supply Management index showed.
Local shares are unlikely to see a major recovery as a result of the choppy backdrop, Mr Yong said.
"I believe the STI will remain range-bound between 2,800 and 3,000 for at least a couple of weeks, until the next Fed meeting in mid-September provides more market clarity," he said.
Still, as many as 11 STI blue-chip counters managed to close higher.
Hutchison Port Holdings Trust closed 1.5 US cents or 2.86 per cent higher at 54 US cents, Olam International gained 5.5 cents or 2.77 per cent to $2.04, and Noble Group rose one cent or 1.92 per cent to 53 cents. Olam remained on investors' radar following the recent news of its 20 per cent acquisition by Mitsubishi. Its shares have surged 21 per cent over the last week.
For Noble, more good news arrived yesterday, as Prudential bought another 2.9 million shares in the commodity firm.
At the other end of the ledger, Thai Beverage was the top losing blue chip, closing two cents or 2.82 per cent lower at 69 cents. Global Logistic Properties was down four cents or 1.85 per cent to $2.12.
Sembcorp Marine dropped four cents or 1.67 per cent to $2.35, while Keppel Corp pared two cents or 0.3 per cent to close at $6.73.