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.