Southeast Asian stock markets, except Vietnam and Indonesia, were tepid on Tuesday tracking Asian markets which were steady on a lack of global cues, with U.S. markets closed for the Presidents Day holiday on Monday.
Asian stocks held below 19-month peaks hit last week though Chinese equities surged to a fresh two-month high as domestic funds piled into financial counters on expectations the world's second biggest economy may have turned a corner.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.1 percent as of 0505 GMT.
Singapore's FTSE Straits Times Index was down as much as 0.3 percent, pulled lower by financials and consumer staples.
DBS Group and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation lost 0.5 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.
Golden Agri-Resources Ltd, the biggest loser on the index, fell to a nearly five-week low.
"We see the market being weighed down by lower bank prices. Banks had a huge rally and I think we are seeing a little profit-taking down there," said Nicholas Teo, trading strategist at KGI Securities (Singapore) Pte Ltd.
"(Financials) have rallied the most in the last two-three months and for that to continue to move up, something special needed to happen and that didn't come; so the market is waiting for a catalyst."
Philippine shares slipped as much as 0.3 percent, with financial and industrial stocks leading the losers.
"We have been trading sideways and there is no direction. Investors are waiting for either a catalyst or a Black Swan event for a significant move up or down," said Victor Felix, equity analyst at Manila-based AB Capital Securities.
BDO Unibank fell as much as 2.1 percent, its biggest intraday percentage fall in almost three weeks.
Ayala Corp fell 0.6 percent, while property and retail services business SM Investments Corp dropped 0.4 percent.
The Thai index was off 0.2 percent, while Malaysian shares fell marginally hurt by consumer staples and basic material stocks.
Bucking the trend, the Vietnam index rose 0.6 percent, its biggest intraday percentage gain in more than four weeks, while Indonesia edged up 0.2 percent.