This week was one for the record books on Wall Street. Trading was canceled on Monday and Tuesday because of Hurricane Sandy, the longest weather-related closure since 1888. When markets opened again, the reaction was subdued and stocks moved sideways for the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) fell a measly 0.11% and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) gained 0.16% this week.
Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) was the biggest winner this week, gaining 8%. Strong economic news pushed the megabank higher, a theme we've been seeing for months. Investors are also gaining confidence in the company's capital levels going forward. Bank of America has often been viewed as the shakiest bank coming out of the recession, but management has gone to great lengths to shore up the company's balance sheet.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) was a somewhat surprising winner this week, jumping 4.6%. The company introduced Windows 8 and its Surface tablet last week, but the long weekend gave investors enough time to consider whether these were enough to move the company forward. For now, investors seem to be impressed by what they see from Windows 8. I think there's a lot of potential for Microsoft, given the company's dominant position in PCs and anemic position in tablets and smartphones. Windows 8 has a familiar interface on all three devices, and I think this will bring more customers to Microsoft's mobile devices going forward. For this week, the market agrees.
Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) is third on the list after rising 1.8% on the week. The stock jumped on speculation that the company will win more business because of an improved economy and rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy. I wouldn't buy on speculation that Sandy will boost results, but the improving economy should have a positive impact for the company.