U.S. stock futures were steady Tuesday morning, one day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose for the third straight session. The Nasdaq, led by a continued bounce in tech stocks, was up 1.9% on Monday. The S&P 500 and Dow were up 1.6% and 1.5%, respectively. While recent gains chipped away at September's terrible trading, all three indexes were still on track for their first monthly declines since March. However, for the third quarter, their strong gains remained intact and so were their more than 50% increases from their March 23 coronavirus lows.
Covid-19 has now killed more than 1 million people since the coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China late last year and then spread around the world. The U.S. accounts for more than 20% of the global fatalities and over 33 million infections. Declared a pandemic over six months ago, Covid-19 has shuttered businesses and schools everywhere, wreaking havoc on global economies and leaving millions and millions of people unemployed.
President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden face off in their first presidential debate Tuesday night at a time when Covid-19 has severely curtailed their campaign appearances. For Wall Street, the debate is Biden's to lose, and if he does, some analysts see it potentially weakening his chances of winning the November election, which in turn could be a positive for stocks. Investors are uneasy about the former vice president's plans to raise taxes. A perceived debate draw could hamper the markets, which desire clarity as national polls, still in Biden's favor, have been narrowing.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are expected to speak again Tuesday about narrowing their differences on additional Covid-19 economic stimulus. They spoke by phone Sunday and Monday, trying to jumpstart negotiations that broke down early last month. House Democrats on Monday unveiled a new, $2.2 trillion relief bill, which lopped $1.2 trillion off their original legislation. But that's still nearly a trillion dollars more than what the president has indicated he'd be willing to sign.
As Washington debates new stimulus, the nation's airlines and their unions are lobbying Congress for another $25 billion in coronavirus aid to delay tens of thousands of furloughs for another six months. The original $25 billion in federal pandemic relief in March and a related prohibition on workforce reductions expires Thursday. U.S. air travel remains about two-thirds lower than it was a year ago on continued concerns about catching Covid-19 on planes.
— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report. Follow all the developments on Wall Street in real-time with CNBC's live markets blog. Get the latest on the pandemic with our coronavirus blog.