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* Banks set to kick off fourth-quarter earnings season
* Hexcel, Woodward rise on $6.43 bln merger announcement
* Alphabet eyes $1 trillion in market cap
* Indexes up: Dow 0.28%, S&P 0.55%, Nasdaq 0.80% (Updates to early afternoon)
Jan 13 (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes hit fresh record highs on Monday on optimism about the imminent signing of a preliminary U.S.-China trade deal as well as the start of the fourth-quarter corporate earnings season.
Apple Inc, Facebook Inc, Netflix Inc , Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc, which have powered the longest bull run in U.S. equities, were the top boosts to the main indexes.
Google-owner Alphabet Inc rose 0.6% and was set to cross $1 trillion in market capitalization to join Apple and Microsoft.
An easing of Middle East tensions and the Phase 1 U.S.-China trade agreement, which is expected to be signed in Washington on Wednesday, have encouraged riskier bets over the last week.
Adding to the positive mood, Bloomberg reported, citing sources that the Trump administration planned to lift its designation of China as a currency manipulator.
Investors are awaiting earnings from big banks JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup Inc and Wells Fargo & Co , which kick off the fourth-quarter reporting season from Tuesday.
“It’s one of those days when we’re setting up for that shift from macro to micro,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.
“My guess is that it (bank earnings) is going to be more good news than bad news and a lot of that is driven by the kick up in demand across the board whether it’s demand from consumers or corporates.”
Analysts expect profits at S&P 500 companies to drop 0.6% for a second consecutive quarter, according to Refinitiv IBES data.
At 12:33 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 80.44 points, or 0.28%, at 28,904.21, the S&P 500 was up 18.05 points, or 0.55%, at 3,283.40 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 73.81 points, or 0.80%, at 9,252.67.
Aerospace companies Hexcel Corp and Woodward Inc rose 7.8% and 3.3%, respectively, after the two Boeing suppliers said they would combine in an all-stock merger valued at $6.43 billion.
Tesla Inc jumped 8.1% after a report that China would not make significant cuts to subsidies for new energy vehicles this year, while Oppenheimer boosted its price target on the stock.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 2.17-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.61-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 52 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 120 new highs and 22 new lows. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Shounak Dasgupta)
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