Base metals prices on the Shanghai Futures Exchange were mostly down during Asian morning trading on Thursday January 3 amid lingering concerns over slowing economic growth in China after the release of disappointing manufacturing data from the country earlier this week.

China’s weaker-than-expected manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) readings have prompted concerns over the country’s overall economic performance for this year. As a result, many market participants have taken a risk-averse stance due to the bearish market sentiment, which in turn has resulted in a weaker performance by the base metals on Thursday.

Only nickel managed to buck the trend, recording some strong gains against a positive fundamental backdrop.

Earlier this week, data releases from China showed the country’s official manufacturing PMI fell to 49.4 in December, the lowest reading since March 2016, while its Caixin manufacturing hit a 19-month low of 49.7.

“The performance of the manufacturing industry shows that China is now undergoing intense downward pressure in economic development and this will undoubtedly put pressure on base metals market,” Guotai Junan Futures said on Thursday.

Amid the bearish market sentiment stemming from concerns over slower growth in China, the most-traded March copper contract on the SHFE fell to 47,240 yuan ($6,881) per tonne as at 9.41am Shanghai time, down by 0.8% or 380 yuan per tonne from Wednesday’s close.

Sending further downward pressure to the red metal’s price is an expected increase in the metal’s production.

China’s refined copper totaled 8.01 million tonnes in the first eleven months of 2018, a year-on-year increase of 15%, and the country’s total production is estimated at around 8.7 million tonnes in 2018, according to Citic Futures Research.

Nickel was the best performer on Thursday as it found support of the positive fundamentals with the metal’s most-traded May contract on the SHFE climbing to 87,990 yuan per tonne as at 9.41am Shanghai time, up by 2.0% or 1,710 yuan per tonne from Wednesday’s close.

The latest International Nickel Study Group (INSG) statistics pegged the global refined nickel market in a deficit of 118,700 tonnes over the January-October period in 2018, up from the 86,500 tonnes in the corresponding period of the previous year, indicating that nickel’s fundamental backdrop remains mildly positive.

“Providing further support to nickel’s price is the fact that the supply growth is slower than the market expectations,” Citic Futures Research said on Thursday.