Caution ruled in the U.S. stock market on Monday, with indexes edging higher as investors kept bets to a minimum in front of earnings.

Volume was among the lightest of the year with investors wanting to see if corporate outlooks validate last week's surge, the strongest week in a year. Dow component Alcoa Inc reported its second-quarter results after the closing bell.

Earnings are going to be the test to the durability of the bounce that started last week, said Scott Marcouiller, senior equity market strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors in St. Louis.

Alcoa slipped 0.6 percent to $10.87 in advance of its report.

Alcoa is one piece of the puzzle and it's going to get attention and it could certainly influence trading early tomorrow, Marcouiller said.

Shares of Alcoa were halted after the closing bell.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> added 18.24 points, or 0.18 percent, to end at 10,216.27. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> edged up just 0.79 of a point, or 0.07 percent, to 1,078.75. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> gained 1.91 points, or 0.09 percent, to close at 2,198.36.

Resource companies' shares were the biggest drag overall, with the S&P materials index <.GSPM> sliding 1.1 percent after Chinese data over the weekend showed the country's copper demand dropped. Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc lost 4.2 percent to $63.22.

U.S.-listed shares of BP Plc jumped 8 percent to $36.76 with the British company in talks with U.S. oil and gas company Apache Corp and others to sell assets worth up to $10 billion.

In addition to Alcoa, other Dow components set to report earnings this week include Intel Corp , JPMorgan Chase & Co and General Electric Co .

For the second quarter, analysts see earnings growth of 27 percent for companies in the S&P 500, according to Thomson Reuters data, up from previous readings in the past three quarters, which hovered around 22 percent. This would also exceed the 22.4 percent analysts were predicting at the beginning of the year.

The market got some support from M&A activity after Aon Corp said it will buy Hewitt Associates Inc for $4.9 billion to create the world's largest human resource services company. Hewitt surged 32.2 percent to $46.79, while Aon sagged 7.1 percent to $35.62.

Also on the upside, Qualcomm Inc climbed 3.5 percent to $35.10 after Goldman Sachs added the company to its conviction buy list, saying the cellphone chip maker is a key beneficiary of accelerating smartphone growth.

(Editing by Jan Paschal)