The Dow Rose 70 Points. More Fiscal Stimulus Squabbles Don’t Have Investors Down.

Squabbles between the White House and Congress are unlikely to stop stimulus payments and money for households and small businesses..

Stocks eked out a gain on Christmas Eve. Fiscal Stimulus squabbles in Congress are continuing even after the bill has been past, while stocks have already enjoyed a strong run of late.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 70.04 points, or 0.23%, to close at 30,199.87. The S&P 500 rose 13.05 points, or 0.35%, to end at 3,703.06, and the Nasdaq Composite rose 33.62 points, or 0.26%, to close at 12,804.73. The biggest gainer in the S&P 500 was Fiserv (ticker: FISV), up 4.5% as Tigress Financial initiated coverage of the payments and financial-technology firm with a Buy rating.

Driving the holiday-shortened session’s positive sentiment is the belief that fiscal stimulus will soon be implemented, even as political complications emerge. The $900 billion bill passed in Congress, but after President Donald Trump criticized the bill without signing it Tuesday evening, Republicans in Congress Thursday blocked a bill that would lift direct household payments to $2,000. The original bill has payments of $600. Either way, if the president does not sign the bill Thursday, a “pocket veto” will be triggered, which Congress can override. The Senate has voted 92-6 in favor of the original bill, which Ed Mills, Washington policy analyst at Raymond James, described as “veto-proof margins” in a note. Stimulus will mean that small business have access to cash that they can use to rehire workers when Covid-19 vaccines are widely distributed.

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On Wednesday, stocks rallied harder than they did Thursday as investors—not just policy analysts—noted that stimulus is likely to be implemented soon.

The rally continued Thursday, but many economically sensitive stocks took a back seat unlike Wednesday. Oil stocks, as represented by the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE), fell 0.6%, while the SPDR S&P Bank ETF (KBE), fell 0.6%. Small-cap stocks, which are more swayed by economic changes than large caps are, fell. The Russell 2000 fell 0.25%. Shares of companies that have sales that are less correlated to current state of the economy, rose nicely. Procter & Gamble (PG) and UnitedHealth Group (UNH) stock both tacked on 1%. Overall, 61% of S&P 500 stocks rose, so appetite for equities wasn’t sour.

Overall, the S&P 500 is up just 0.1% since Dec. 4, a date that marked a pause in the broader stock market rally this quarter. Many on Wall Street say stocks are a bit overextended at current prices.

Write to Jacob Sonenshine at