Stock index futures rose on Monday as China's stronger trade figures stoked optimism in the global recovery and as investors anticipated a profitable earnings report from Alcoa Inc .

Data on the surge in December Chinese trade, including strong demand for oil and copper, helped lift commodity prices and looked set to boost commodity related stocks. Shares in Newmont Mining Corp rose 2.4 percent to $50.80 in premarket trade.

After the close on Monday, aluminum giant Alcoa is expected to post a profit of 5 cents per share, compared to a loss of 28 cents a year ago, in a report that traditionally marks the start of earnings season. Alcoa shares rose 2.7 percent to $17.49 in premarket trading.

Steve Goldman, market strategist at Weeden & Co in Greenwich, Connecticut, said the Chinese data was supporting the idea of a global recovery. It has been a propeller for the general equity markets. You're seeing cyclical stocks very strong.

S&P 500 futures gained 4.5 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 30 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 4 points.

China ended 2009 with record monthly imports of crude oil and soybeans and a strong appetite for iron ore and copper, while its exports rose 17.7 percent year-over-year, dwarfing a forecast for a 4 percent rise.

U.S. crude oil futures rose 36 cents to $83.11 a barrel, and industrial base metals surged, with copper up almost 3 percent. The rise in commodities' was also helped by a weaker U.S. dollar, which fell 0.6 percent against a basket of currencies.

Analysts' expectations for earnings have been rising heading into the reporting period, and plummeting profits a year ago are expected to make for an easy comparison.

The earnings growth profile is going to certainly be pretty impressive, said Craig Peckham, equity trading strategist at Jefferies & Company in New York,

Citigroup Inc upgraded Chevron Corp to buy from hold as Citigroup increased its long-term oil price assumption to $80 per barrel from $65. Citigroup said Chevron shares have the greatest sensitivity to a change in oil prices. The stock rose 0.8 percent to $80.13.

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. The S&P 500 has risen for 12 out of the last 14 trading sessions.

(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)