Wall Street started the last week of the year firmly in the red but rallied a little later in the session.
The benchmark S&P 500 index closed down 0.2 per cent at 2,057.
The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 0.1 per cent at 17,528.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq was 8 points lower at 5,041.
Energy stocks led the decline after West Texas crude gave up much of last week's near 10 per cent gains.
The benchmark US oil price was off more than 3 per cent to $US36.26 a barrel.
That saw energy giant Chevron down 1.8 per cent and rival Exxon down 0.7 per cent.
Elsewhere on commodities markets, iron ore remains at $US40.50 a tonne and spot gold was worth $US1,069 an ounce.
Raw materials were down by around a quarter this year - the worst result since the global financial crisis - as concerns about weakening demand in China and oversupply hit metals, energy and some agricultural commodities.
Across the Atlantic, London was closed for its Boxing Day holiday but most European markets reopened.
Germany's DAX was down 0.7 per cent and France's CAC fell 1 per cent.
Spain's IBEX was off 1.4 per cent, due to lingering uncertainty over which coalition of parties will form government after last week's election saw Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's People's Party lose its parliamentary majority.
Locally, the Australian futures market has been closed since Christmas Eve and will reopen today, as will the local share market.
On currency markets, the Australian dollar was worth 72.5 US cents, 66 euro cents, 87.3 Japanese yen, 48.75 British pence and $NZ1.06.