Stock index futures rose on Monday after China's strong import figures stoked optimism about world economic recovery as investors awaited earnings from Alcoa Inc , which traditionally marks the kickoff of the U.S. quarterly earnings season.

China ended 2009 with record monthly imports of crude oil and soybeans and a strong appetite for iron ore and copper, while its aluminum and steel sectors saw an increase in export volumes.

U.S. crude oil futures rose $1 to $83.79 a barrel, while industrial base metals surged, with copper up almost 3 percent. The commodities' advance was also helped by a weaker U.S. dollar, which fell 0.7 percent to a basket of currencies.

Investors were also eyeing quarterly results from Alcoa , due to kick off the U.S. earnings season after the bell on Monday, with the aluminum major expected to post a profit of 5 cents per share, compared to a lose of 28 cents a year ago.

S&P 500 futures gained 4.7 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose by 47 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 3.8 points.

On Friday, the Dow and the S&P 500 rose to a new 15-month high, while the Nasdaq hit its highest level in 16 months.

In more bullish news from China, the world's third largest economy said it will extend active fiscal policies into 2010 aimed at countering the global economic slowdown, the nation's finance minister said, warning that departing too early from those policies could harm the economy.

European stocks were up 0.6 percent in morning trade, with mining shares such as Xstrata and Rio Tinto rising along with commodity prices, buoyed by China's strong trade data. Japanese markets were closed on Monday for the Coming of Age Day.

(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by Walker Simon)