The Dow (INDEX: ^DJI) rose slightly this week, closing up 0.5% for the week (12,422.06).

The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) and the Nasdaq followed suit, rising 0.9% and 1.4%, respectively.

Despite the up week for the market, the latter part of the week held some bad news for Europe and for banking. Most significantly for Europe, ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded France from its vaunted AAA perch. In banking, JPMorgan Chase's earnings weren't stellar and Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) told regulators it would be willing to scale down in parts of the country if its situation deteriorates. Honestly, neither piece of news should be that shocking. Wall Street activities (the ones that were weak for JPMorgan) have been affected by Europe and are coming off heady times for trading. And all B of A is saying is that they'll take the steps any reasonable operator would. It's already been selling off non-core assets to get leaner and meaner. (Read more.)

All that said, JPMorgan was still up for the week with a 1.6% gain. Meanwhile, B of A was one of the week's three biggest winners.

Company

Gain This Week

YTD Gain

Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) 7% 13.1%
Alcoa (NYSE: AA) 7% 13.3%
Bank of America 7% 18.9%

You'll also notice that each of these three is up pretty big for the year. In fact, they're the three biggest winners in the Dow so far.

Alcoa and Bank of America are coming off a miserable 2011 that saw their shares fall by about half (a little less for Alcoa, a little more for B of A). Meanwhile, Caterpillar was only down about three percent.

All three are especially sensitive to macroeconomic hopes and fears. And for whatever reason, sentiments have been more favorable to start the year.

If you're a shareholder in Caterpillar, Alcoa, or B of A, enjoy these short-term gains. But let's all remember to keep focused on the long term. If you're looking for three vetted stocks with good future prospects, check out our brand new free report: "3 American Companies Set to Dominate the World." Get instant access.

Anand Chokkavelu and The Motley Fool own shares of JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.