Stocks slightly higher on shortened trading day

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks were mildly higher on Christmas Eve morning trading, despite President Donald Trump’s threat not to sign a major economic stimulus package approved by Congress this week.

Trading was light as it is an abbreviated trading session. Trading on the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq will end at 1 p.m. ET, and will be closed Friday for the Christmas holiday.

The S&P 500 index was up 0.2% in early trading, led higher by telecommunications and technology companies. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 52 points to 30,182, roughly 0.2% as well. The Nasdaq composite was up 0.4%.

Investors continue to turn their eyes to Washington, where Democrats in Congress is expected to try to make alterations to the $900 billion COVID stimulus bill that President Trump has threatened to veto. Trump has asked for higher individual payments to Americans, something Democrats seem to support but is unlikely to get a vote in the Republican-held Senate.

The hope has been that Trump will back away from his veto threat and the stimulus package might tide the economy over until widespread vaccinations can help the world begin to return to normal.

Meanwhile the U.S. economy continues to deteriorate under widespread coronavirus outbreaks, infections and hospitalizations. The Labor Department said fewer U.S. workers filed for unemployment benefits last week. The number is still incredibly high compared with before the pandemic, but it was better than economists were expecting.

Other reports were grimmer. Consumers pulled back on their spending by more last month than economists expected, mainly because of a drop in income.

“Despite the churning of the Washington D.C. pond by vetoes, new votes, and overrides, Wall Street clearly believes something positive will float to the top of the barrel when the churning stops,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary to investors.