23 March 2013 15:00 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--North American Q2 titanium dioxide (TiO2) price-hike efforts were not likely to succeed, buyers said in advance of the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC), set for Sunday through Tuesday in San Antonio.
That sentiment stems from ongoing weak demand, ample inventory and the absence of Q2 price initiatives from three of the five major producers. Two sellers have not yet announced price intentions this year, and one said it plans to raise its prices in the third quarter.
The two proposed increases of 10-cents/lb ($220/tonne), effective on 1 and 15 June, have been described by buyers as an attempt to stem a Q2 price decline.
“The odds of weaker second-quarter prices are about 50:50, but there is no chance of an increase,” an architectural coatings maker said.
“We’re holding our breath to see what happens later in the year, but we’re all still swimming in TiO2,” said a buyer in the plastics compounding market said.
While the plastics compounding market is flat, the spring coatings season has been slow to gain its typical momentum, largely due to inclement weather and economic uncertainty. But some sources are anticipating a strong season based on early indications from the remodelling industry and big-box paint retailers.
TiO2 producers have been largely reticent, however, and face the added pressure of paint makers that plan to forgo 15-20% of their typical chloride-route TiO2 purchases in favour of improved sulfate-based imports from China.
Downstream, the US Commerce Department said new-home construction rose by 0.8% in February from January.
However, market confidence among US home builders fell slightly in March for the second straight month.
Despite that sentiment, a monthly survey of US architectural firms reflected industry growth for the seventh consecutive month, but an economist cautioned that mixed business conditions still exist within a “hesitant” recovery.
The IPC, sponsored by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), takes place Sunday through Tuesday.
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