NEW YORK (REUTERS) – Wall Street’s main indexes ended mixed in a dull session on Thursday (Aug 4) 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 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 US bond yields slipped after the Bank of England warned of a long recession.
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 per cent, to 32,726.82, the S&P 500 lost 3.23 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 4,151.94 and the Nasdaq Composite added 52.42 points, or 0.41 per cent, to 12,720.58.
Focus on Friday will be on closely watched US 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 labour 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 per cent target before policymakers can let up on tightening monetary policy.
The S&P 500 has gained about 14 per cent from its mid-June lows, but is still down about 13 per cent 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 jumped 10 per cent 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 per cent after raising its annual profit forecast.