New North American TiO2 price-hike efforts surface

31 May 2013 23:09  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Two more North American titanium dioxide (TiO2) producers have announced plans to increase pigment pricing later this year, sources confirmed on Friday.

The latest North American price-hike initiatives – from Tronox for 6 cents/lb ($132/tonne, €102/tonne), and from DuPont for 8 cents/lb, would be implemented on 1 September and 1 October, respectively, for most customers with 90-day price protection.

The producers also announced pigment price increases in other regions of the world including Latin America, where Tronox seeks to increase prices by $175/tonne, and where DuPont intends to hike prices by $200/tonne.

The smaller of the two North American price efforts adds to at least two other major sellers’ third-quarter efforts to increase domestic TiO2 prices by 10 cents/lb. North American TiO2 prices are currently in the range of $1.55-1.70/lb, as assessed by ICIS.

The 8 cent/lb effort from DuPont is not scheduled to take effect until the fourth quarter of this year, and it excludes the company’s RPS Vantage TiO2 sold into the paper and paperboard markets.

No matter, say most buyers, because low demand and oversupply cannot be surmounted by TiO2 producers. Customers give the latest initiatives little or no chance of success.

“I’m sure they would all like to get something even if it was just 6 cents/lb on October 1,” a customer said, “but there is not enough demand to tighten the supply enough to … get an increase this year.”

The buyer then added: “Doesn’t demand from the coatings industry taper off by September and October?”

Producers are adamant that delivery lead times and inventory of some pigment grades are shrinking amid some demand growth. They also insist that the delayed spring coatings season will prolong the season beyond its usual normal time frame.

Downstream, there are indications of improvement.

Housing numbers are increasing, some sources noted, along with demand for coatings, but ongoing storms and adverse weather patterns have stymied typically strong seasonal demand.

US pending home sales rose slightly in April from March, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The 0.3% increase indicated that the nation’s housing market continues to improve, if only by “razor-thin” margins. However, pending sales have been above year-ago levels for the past 24 months.

US TiO2 producers include Tronox, DuPont, Kronos, Cristal and Huntsman.

($1 = €0.77)

By: Larry Terry
1 713 525 2653

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