05 September 2013 21:33 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--North American titanium dioxide (TiO2) contract prices settled flat for the third quarter, sources confirmed on Thursday.
Although there was early talk that pricing had weakened, the consensus among most individual buyers of 2-5m lbs/year was that prices were unchanged from the second quarter.
The rollover holds the domestic range at $1.55-1.70/lb ($3,417-3,748/tonne, €2,597-2,848/tonne), as assessed by ICIS.
Although a couple of sources suggested that for some buyers, the range could be lower by 5-10 cents/lb, that price level was not broadly confirmed among small to mid-range buyers.
“There has been downward pressure on pricing in North America due to import pricing, but no movement yet,” one buyer said. “Supply is still abundant, with extremely short lead times on orders. Producers are still talking up an increase in October, but this is very unlikely to happen,” the buyer added.
“I’ve heard Chinese material has continued to soften,” another customer said, “but I have not seen anything yet from the domestic suppliers to the plastics TiO2 market.”
A small architectural coatings maker said it saw no price change in the third quarter. “And from what I am hearing, demand is hit or miss, with some areas of the country doing better than others.”
Another buyer said it was “not sure what will happen in the fourth quarter, but given likely poor demand … I think producers’ best shot at an increase will be January 1.”
Producers have largely pinned hopes on either latent demand this year or renewed demand in first-half 2014.
A new report from the Freedonia Group, an Ohio-based industry market research firm, forecasts that US demand for paint and coatings will rise 4.2% annually to 1.5bn gal in 2017, a reversal from volume declines recorded during the 2007-2012 period.
Catalysts for that predicted growth, the Freedonia Group report said, will include a strong rebound in construction activity.
Major North American TiO2 producers include Tronox, DuPont, Kronos, Cristal and Huntsman.
($1 = €0.76)
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