U.S. stocks ended the day mixed Thursday as the Nasdaq composite and Standard & Poor's 500 index slogged out some gains and the Dow Jones industrial average came close. It was s sluggish start to a new quarter.

At the close on Wall Street, the Dow was off 12.7 points, about 0.1 percent, at 16,272. The S&P 500 was up 3.8 points, about 0.2 percent, to 1,923.8. The Nasdaq gained nearly 7 points, about 0.2 percent, to 4,627.1.

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About the same time, the price of benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 7 cents to 45.02 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

JOBS AHEAD: Economists forecast that employers added 200,000 workers to their payrolls last month. Strong hiring would likely raise expectations that the Federal Reserve will increase its benchmark interest rate at its next meeting later this month. Fed officials have said they expect to start raising rates before the end of the year. Policymakers also meet in October.

ROUGH STRETCH: Mounting concerns about slowing global economic growth and the timing of the Fed's first interest-rate hike in nearly a decade battered markets over recent months. The S&P 500, the most widely used measure of U.S. investments, has lost 8 percent in three months.

"It has been a painful experience, but that's what creates opportunities," said Tom Dinegan, an equity strategist at UBS Wealth Management. "There's more panic in the market than there is in the economy."

DONUTS DUNKED: Dunkin' Brands plunged 12 percent after it announced plans to shutter 100 Dunkin' Donuts stores around the country as sales slow. The company's revenue estimates also fell short of analysts' forecasts. Dunkin' Brands dropped $5.78 to $43.21.