TORONTO -- North American Stock markets finished relatively unchanged as investors paused after a dismal start to 2016 in trading a day earlier, which had led some to predict a year of volatility ahead.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index closed down 7.01 points at 12,920.14. On Monday, the index finished 82.80 points lower after having been down as much as 262 points.

The Dow Jones average of 30 stocks rose 9.72 points to 17,158.66 after falling 276.09 points Monday in its biggest decline in two weeks. The broader S&P 500 index closed up 4.05 points at 2,016.71 while Nasdaq edged down 11.66 points to 4,891.43.

Worries over high stockpiles of crude oil pushed the price of the key commodity to its lowest level in nearly two weeks. The February crude contract was down 79 cents at US$35.97 a barrel, while the February natural gas gave back a penny to US$2.33 per mmBtu.

February gold rose $3.20 to US$1,078.40 an ounce.

The Canadian dollar lost 0.25 of a U.S. cent to 71.48 cents US, adding to a more than half-cent decline on Monday.