Stocks hovered around the flatline on Wednesday as traders weighed the apparent progress in the U.S. fiscal stimulus talks and disappointing economic data.
The Dow Jones Industrials remained red by lunch time 23.92 points to 30,175.39.
The S&P 500 recovered 8.11 points to 3,702.73.
The NASDAQ advanced 50.4 points from Tuesday’s record closing high, to 12,645.46.
Wall Street was coming off a strong session in which the major averages all gained more than 1%.
Politico reported Congress was on the brink of a $900-billion rescue deal that would include a new round of direct payments to consumers. However, that package would exclude a liability shield for businesses and state and local aid.
The report came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy met Tuesday to strike a bipartisan aid deal. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called into the talks.
The deadline on stimulus looms amid some of the darkest days of the pandemic. The U.S. is recording at least 215,400 new Covid-19 cases and at least 2,300 virus-related deaths each day, based on a seven-day average using Johns Hopkins University data.
Wednesday’s gains were kept in check by a steeper-than-expected drop in U.S. retail sales. The Commerce Department said retail sales fell by 1.1% in November. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected a decline of 0.3%.
Prices for the 10-Year Treasury dipped, raising yields to 0.92% from Tuesday’s 0.91%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil prices regained eight cents to $47.70 U.S. a barrel.
Gold prices hiked $2.90 to $1,858.20