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US STOCKS-Wall St see-saws after rally on AI boost, inflation relief

(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock markets, click or type LIVE/ in a news window.)

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Indexes: Dow off 0.15%, S&P up 0.06%, Nasdaq up 0.21%

(Updated at 9:43 a.m. ET/1443 GMT)

By Amruta Khandekar and Johann M Cherian

March 1 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks struggled for direction on Friday as investors took a breather after the previous session's rally, driven by an inflation reading that strengthened bets of interest rate cuts by June, and a persistent artificial-intelligence mania.

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The tech-heavy Nasdaq closed at a record high on Thursday, spurred by gains in AI-linked stocks such as heavyweight chip designer Nvidia and its rival Advanced Micro Devices, which hit an all-time peak.

Shares of Nvidia, the key driver of the AI-led rally on Wall Street this year, were up 1.4%, while those of Advanced Micro Devices climbed 3.1% after a 9% surge in the previous session.

The Wall Street rally found further support as the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) report came in-line with expectations on Thursday and showed annual inflation growth was the smallest in three years.

At 9:43 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 59.09 points, or 0.15%, at 38,937.30, the S&P 500 was up 2.93 points, or 0.06%, at 5,099.20, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 33.66 points, or 0.21%, at 16,125.58.

The S&P 500 energy sector was the top sectoral performer with a 1.1% rise, as crude prices got a lift. "Now that we've gotten through the PCE (report), investors are willing to sit on the sidelines a little bit today," said Paul Nolte, senior wealth advisor and market strategist for Murphy & Sylvest.

Nolte said investors are now waiting for remarks from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and key employment data due next week for more clues on the monetary policy path.

Meanwhile, Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin said price increase pressures still exist, and it is too soon to predict when the Fed will be able to begin cutting rates.

Adding to the risk-off mood on Friday, New York Community Bancorp slumped 25.7% after the regional lender said it had found "material weaknesses" in internal controls related to its loan review and revised its fourth-quarter loss 10 times above the previously stated numbers.

The KBW regional banking index dropped 2.5%.

The three indexes clocked their fourth straight monthly gains on Thursday, while the S&P 500 notched a fresh closing high as euphoria around AI and a strong fourth-quarter earnings season propelled stocks to new heights in February.

Among other stocks, cybersecurity firm Zscaler shed 10.1% as the company reported higher operating expenses in the second quarter.

Dell Technologies jumped 28.6% after the personal computer maker forecast annual revenue and profit above Wall Street estimates, betting on demand for its AI servers.

Autodesk gained 4.5% as the company's annual revenue forecast exceeded expectations on resilient demand for its design software products.

Everbridge surged 24.1% after private equity firm Thoma Bravo increased its offer price for the software firm, valuing it at about $1.8 billion.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.41-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.22-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 34 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 72 new highs and 37 new lows. (Reporting by Amruta Khandekar and Johann M Cherian; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)