U.S. stock index futures were little changed early Wednesday after White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have made “good progress” on stimulus talks. He added, however, that they “still have a ways to go” before an agreement is reached.
Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average pointed to a slightly lower open. S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq-100 futures were also near breakeven.
Following Pelosi and Mnuchin’s meeting on Tuesday, Meadows told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” that the two will talk again on Wednesday, and that he hopes to see “some kind of agreement before the weekend.”
Mnuchin and Pelosi’s conversation Tuesday continued a last-minute attempt to hash out an agreement before the Nov. 3 election. Democrats and the Trump administration have struggled for months to overcome fundamental disagreements over additional stimulus measures — including the dollar amount — as the economy continues to feel the burden of the coronavirus pandemic.
Stocks have been trading based on lawmakers’ perceived progress — or lack thereof — and on Tuesday finished the session higher after Pelosi told Bloomberg TV that she’s “optimistic” about a potential aid deal.
To be sure, even if the White House and Democrats hatch a deal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would need to bring the bill to the Senate floor in time. McConnell told his caucus Tuesday in a private lunch that he is encouraging the administration not to agree to a stimulus bill as he worries about dividing Republicans on major legislation days before an election, NBC News reported.
Still, McConnell did say this week he would bring a bipartisan agreement to the chamber’s floor “at some point” if Pelosi and Mnuchin reach an agreement.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the session 0.4%, or 113.37 points, higher. At one point during the session the 30-stock average had been up more than 300 points. The S&P 500 gained 0.5% to end the day at 3,443.12, while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.3% to close at 11,516.49.
“The back and forth political discussions on the stimulus deal and continued election uncertainty give us extra justification for short-term market uneasiness,” said David Bahnsen, chief investment strategist at The Bahnsen Group, which oversees $2.5 billion in client assets. “Very few market actors actually doubt that some fiscal relief bill is coming. The question is purely when, and of what composition,” he added.
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