The 45-minute meeting is a further sign that talks to avert the "fiscal cliff" could be yielding progress after weeks of stalemate, and aides from both parties said they were optimistic that a deal could be reached in coming days.
"We're getting close," said one Democratic aide, who added however that a deal is not imminent.
Although both sides still had major differences, investors were cheered by signs of progress. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 0.95 percent at midday.
"The fiscal cliff is starting to get ironed out," said Frank Davis, director of sales and trading at LEK Securities.