Australia shares set to gain on easing Middle East tensions, trade deal hopes; NZ up

    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