By Mai Nguyen
March 5 (Reuters) - Base metals rallied on Thursday, driven by a rebound in equity markets and expectations of more central bank and government support to blunt the economic impact of the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) rose 0.6% to $5,715 a tonne by 0711 GMT, while the most-traded contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) advanced 0.1% to 45,140 yuan ($6,503.76) a tonne.
Asian shares rallied for a fourth straight session as U.S. markets swung sharply higher and another dose of central bank stimulus offered some salve for the global economic outlook.
Investors have been banking on stimulus from governments around the world, including more from China, to help mitigate the damage from the outbreak.
"We expect the majority of shuttered manufacturing hubs and supply chains in China to be freed of restrictions by April, paving the way for higher copper demand later in the year," said Fitch Solutions in a note, raising its 2020 copper price forecast to $5,900 a tonne from $5,700.
However, the market intelligence firm said it expected copper sentiment to remain subdued in the short term as the virus continues to spread.
* PRICES: LME aluminium rose 0.1% to $1,728 a tonne, nickel advanced 1.1% to $12,825 a tonne, zinc jumped 1.5% to $2,012 a tonne. ShFE aluminium increased 0.3% to 13,150 yuan a tonne and ShFE nickel was up 0.6% to 102,870 yuan a tonne.
* CHINA: China's exports and imports likely tumbled in the first two months of the year, a Reuters poll showed, as the health crisis triggered by the epidemic disrupted businesses and production and wreaked havoc along global supply chains.
* VIRUS: Mainland China reported a rise in new cases of coronavirus, reversing three straight days of declines, while South Korea confirmed 438 new cases on Thursday, taking total infections to 5,766.
* COPPER: Japanese miner Sumitomo Metal Mining said it aims to boost its annual copper output through its shareholding to 300,000 tonnes by 2030 under its new long-term vision.
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Three month LME copper
Most active ShFE copper
Three month LME aluminium
Most active ShFE aluminium
Three month LME zinc
Most active ShFE zinc
Three month LME lead
Most active ShFE lead
Three month LME nickel
Most active ShFE nickel
Three month LME tin
Most active ShFE tin
ARBS ($1 = 6.9406 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Sriraj Kalluvila)