The stock market edged up slightly on Monday in anticipation of earnings announcements, following disappointing employment data last Friday and encouraging China trade data from today’s Asian trading session.

The first week of 2010 for the stock market started strong, with the S&P 500 opening at 1116.56 and closing at 1144.98, for a gain of 2.55%. The index gained 0.288% on Friday, despite the disappointing employment data which showed that nonfarm payroll employment dropped by 85,000 in December 2009.

The S&P gapped up this morning to open at 1149.74 on favorable Chinese trade data. The report released by the Chinese government showed that December exports were 130.7 billion US dollars, up 17.7% from the same period last year, and imports were 112.3 billion US dollars, up 55.9% from last year. This contributed to bullish sentiments as some see the encouraging export figure as evidence of a worldwide economic recovery, especially for China’s trading partners, and the import figure as evidence of China’s own economic recovery.

The stock market headed lower after the opening, with the S&P 500 trading at 1145.38 at the closing of the European trading session, and falling as low as 1142 at one point. The S&P then rallied in the afternoon New York trading session, closing at 1146.98, for a gain of 0.175% from last Friday’s close of 1144.98.

Investors are waiting for earnings releases from major corporations this month. Alcoa is the first company in the S&P 500 to report its earnings. After the market closed today, Alcoa reported a net loss of $277 million, or 28 cents per share on sales of $5.43 billion.

The next S&P 500 companies to release their earnings are Linear Technology and Supervalu. Linear Technology will report its second quarter earnings after the market closes tomorrow and Supervalu will release its third quarter earnings at 9 am tomorrow.