U.S. markets and stock exchange traded funds strengthened Thursday while stimulus hopes helped maintain the momentum before slowing down toward the end of the session.

On Thursday, the Invesco QQQ Trust (NASDAQ: QQQ) increased 1.6%, SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (NYSEArca: DIA) was up 0.2% and iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: IVV) rose 0.6%.

Congress was passing around a proposed new pandemic relief deal after the White House countered House Democrats’ $2.2 trillion package with a $1.5 trillion-plus proposal, to include a $20 billion aid extension for airlines, Reuters reports.

“The big wild card in the U.S. is whether we get more fiscal spending or not,” Gregory Perdon, co-chief investment officer at private bank Arbuthnot Latham, told the Wall Street Journal. “The political backdrop is just so toxic.”

While U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cautioned that Democrats and the White House are still debating over dollars amount, she expressed optimism that a deal could be within reach.

“The market is viewing the stimulus as a lubricant for the economy, to take the market to the next level and to keep the consumer strong,” Matthew Keator, managing partner in the Keator Group, a wealth management firm, told Reuters. “One of the encouraging things is the Speaker and the Treasury Secretary (Steven Mnuchin) have kept an open mind, which leads to the adage ‘hope springs eternal.’”

The stimulus may help prop up a flagging economic recovery as recent data, including jobless claims and consumer spending, indicated that previous economic boost could be losing steam.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic remains a focus point. Infection rates in the U.S. remain elevated for some months, and some warned that the colder months could bring another resurgence in new infections. The threat of further restrictions or lockdowns continues to weigh on the economic recovery outlook and weigh on consumer spending., which makes up the largest portion of the U.S. economy.

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