Jan 10 (Reuters) - Australian shares are set to rise and will likely touch a record high on Friday, with de-escalating tensions in the Middle East and the prospect of the United States and China signing an early trade deal next week likely to cheer stocks. The Australian index closed at its highest-ever level and U.S. stocks hit record highs on Thursday, after Washington and Tehran backed off from further conflict after a spike in tensions following the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general. China's commerce ministry said Vice Premier Liu He would sign a "Phase 1" deal in Washington next week, adding to positive sentiment. The local share price index futures rose 12 points or 0.2%, a 47.2-point discount to the underlying S&P/ASX 200 index close. The benchmark rose 0.8% to hit a record close on Thursday. New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.2% or 17.44 points to 11,555.12 by 2124 GMT. (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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