U.S. stock index futures were slightly lower 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 an opening slide of more than 50 points. S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq-100 futures also traded marginally lower.
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 desperate 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.
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.