The Toronto Stock Exchange is set to close out an underwhelming three per cent gain for 2012, which would place Canada's benchmark bourse among the developed world's worst-performing stock markets this year.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index was trading at 12,305 when North American markets opened, down 10 points on the day in light trading. If that flat showing holds, the TSX will post just over a three-per-cent gain for the year.

That would make the TSX almost the worst-performing major stock exchange in the world.

The TSX has been outpaced by most of its North American rivals this year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was slightly better, with a five-per-cent gain on the year. But the broader S&P 500 is on pace to post an 11-per-cent gain on the year. The technology-focused Nasdaq did even better, up by more than 13 per cent.

The Nasdaq's showing was buoyed by Apple, which exploded out of the gate before regressing somewhat in the later months when concerns about the iPhone 5's reception and doubts about growth potential began to manifest. All in all, the company's stock was up 26 per cent on the year.

Elsewhere in the Americas, Mexico's IPC index was up almost 18 per cent, and Brazil's benchmark Bovespa was up seven per cent.

European stocks did well

Despite all the concern's over European debt, the continent's stock markets performed well for the most part and left the TSX in their dust. The continent-wide Euro Stoxx index was up by more than 13 per cent in 2012, while Paris' CAC-40 index did even better, up 15 per cent.

Germany's DAX Index had a great year, up more than 29 per cent. The main stock index of Switzerland, a country that often gets grouped with Canada as a "safe haven," went up by more than 14 per cent.

One of the only major European exchanges to lose ground in 2012 was Spain, where the Ibex was off almost 5 per cent. Italy's Borsa Italiana was up almost eight per cent on the year.

Asian stocks also did well, for the most part. The Japanese Nikkei rebounded from a poor 2011 with an almost 23-per-cent gain in 2012. Hong Kong's Hang Seng did almost as well, with a 22-per-cent gain.

Shanghai's stock exchange gained about three per cent on the year, while Taiwan's Taiex and Korea's Kospi were each up by about nine per cent on the year.

The TSX's three-per-cent gain was a rebound from a disastrous 2011 that saw the exchange lose more than 11 per cent of its value. But it was well off the 30- and 14-per-cent gains the TSX posted in the two years following the recession, in 2009 and 2010.

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