Stocks slightly higher on shortened trading day

Stocks were ever-so-slightly higher on Christmas Eve trading, despite President Donald Trump’s threat not to sign a major economic stimulus package approved by Congress this week

The S&P 500 index was up 0.1% as of 11:30 a.m. ET, led higher by telecommunications and technology companies. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 26 points to 30,148, roughly 0.1% as well. The Nasdaq composite was mostly unchanged.

It’s been a relatively quiet week with the holidays. The S&P 500 is on pace to end the week down 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.

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AP Business Writers Stan Choe, Alex Veiga and Joe McDonald contributed.