U.S. stocks rose on Monday as expectations of solid first-quarter earnings spurred buying in financial, energy and industrial sectors, while news of an aid plan for Greece calmed worries about sovereign risk.

Some investors were cautious, however, waiting to see if corporate results would justify the recent run-up in valuations that has propelled both the Dow and the S&P 500 to nearly 19-month highs.

The S&P 500, which is up 7 percent since the start of the year, rose to less than 1 point from the 1,200 level, a critical resistance level. The Dow, meanwhile, traded above 11,000 after briefly topping that level on Friday for the first time since September 2008.

Aluminum company Alcoa Inc gained 2.2 percent to $14.71, making it one of the Dow's top boosts, along with American Express Co , up 1.1 percent at $44.38.

Alcoa kicks off the first-quarter reporting period with results after the bell. Analysts expect the company to post a first-quarter profit of 10 cents per share, reversing its loss in the same period last year of 59 cents a share.

The theme is that people fully expect that the earnings season is going to be very, very good, so people are trying to get in front of that, said Stephen Massocca, managing director of Wedbush Morgan in San Francisco. The deal on Greece has allayed fears that their fiscal troubles might spread.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 18.67 points, or 0.17 percent, to 11,016.02. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> climbed 3.65 points, or 0.31 percent, to 1,198.02. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> gained 7.66 points, or 0.31 percent, to 2,461.71.

Helping to relieve worries about sovereign debt that could have repercussions through other parts of the continent, euro zone ministers signed off on a 30 billion euro ($40 billion) rescue package for Greece on Sunday. But they stressed that Athens had not yet asked that the plan to be activated.

Deal news also underpinned the market, with power producer Mirant Corp agreeing to take over rival RRI Energy Inc , while Palm Inc

, the smart phone maker, is reportedly looking to sell itself.

Other companies scheduled to report this week are Google Inc , up 1 percent to $572.25; General Electric Co , up 1.4 percent to $18.78, and JPMorgan Chase & Co , up 0.5 percent at $46.20.

Mirant shares shot up 18.9 percent to $12.76, and RRI Energy gained 14.7 percent to $4.53. Palm shares jumped 19.4 percent to $6.16.

Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar Inc was up 2.6 percent at $66.94 after a brokerage upgraded the stock.

First-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to rise 36.8 percent from a year ago, according to data from Thomson Reuters.

(Reporting by Ellis Mnyandu; Additional reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Kenneth Barry)