TORONTO -- February began on a sour note for North American stock markets amid a sharp drop in oil prices and disappointing reports on manufacturing at home and abroad.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index fell 147.76 points to end the day at 12,674.37, reversing direction on a big rally that closed out trading last week.

New York markets were narrowly mixed, with the Dow Jones industrial average losing 17.12 points to close at 16,449.18, the S&P 500 declining 0.86 of a point to 1,939.38 and the Nasdaq adding 6.42 points to 4,620.37.

In commodities, the March contract for benchmark crude oil fell $2 to end trading at US$31.62 a barrel, while March natural gas plummeted 14.6 cents to US$2.152 per mmBtu and April gold rose $11.60 to US$1,128 a troy ounce.

Despite crude's loss, the usually oil-sensitive Canadian dollar managed to continue its recent buoyancy, rising 0.39 of a U.S. cent to end the day at 71.79 cents US.