A trader works on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., March 7, 2022.
A trader works on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., March 7, 2022. Reuters / ANDREW KELLY

Wall Street's main indexes ended mixed in a dull session on Thursday as gains in high-growth stocks offset losses in energy shares, with investors looking ahead to monthly jobs report for clues on the pace of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq hit a fresh three-month high led by Amazon.com Inc and Advanced Micro Devices, while losses in energy stocks including Exxon Mobil and Chevron Corp weighed on the S&P 500.

Worries about a slowing global economy pushed oil prices to their lowest since before Russia's February invasion of Ukraine and U.S. bond yields slipped after the Bank of England warned of a long recession. [O/R]

Strong earnings reports and a surprise pick-up in services sector activity had sent the main indexes sharply higher in the previous session.

"The market is looking for direction after a strong bounce that relieved the deep pessimism that had permeated the markets," Yung-Yu Ma, chief investment strategist at BMO Wealth Management.

"Many signs indicate that inflation has peaked and the question now turns to how quickly it will come down or whether stickier components will keep it higher than the Fed is comfortable with."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 85.68 points, or 0.26%, to 32,726.82, the S&P 500 lost 3.23 points, or 0.08%, to 4,151.94 and the Nasdaq Composite added 52.42 points, or 0.41%, to 12,720.58.

Focus on Friday will be on closely watched U.S. employment report, which is expected to show nonfarm payrolls increased by 250,000 jobs last month, after rising by 372,000 jobs in June.

Any signs of strength in the labor market could feed into fears of aggressive steps by the Fed to curb inflation.

Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester, a voting member of the rate-setting panel, reiterated the need to see several months of inflation coming down toward the Fed's 2% target before policymakers can let up on tightening monetary policy.

The S&P 500 has gained about 14% from its mid-June lows, but is still down about 13% for the year on concerns around the fallout of the Ukraine war, soaring inflation, COVID-19 flare-ups in China and an aggressive rise in interest rates.

Among individual stocks, crypto exchange Coinbase Global Inc jumped 10% after it announced a tie-up with BlackRock to provide its institutional clients access to crypto trading and custody services.

Health insurer Cigna Corp gained 3.1% after raising its annual profit forecast.

Drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co slipped 2.6% as it cut annual profit view for the second time.

Facebook-parent Meta Platforms closed up 1.0% after it said it would make its first-ever bond offering.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.02-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and 1.40-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded one new 52-week high and 29 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 59 new highs and 31 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 11.38 billion shares, compared with the 10.76 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.