18 November 2013 20:26 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--The North America Q4 titanium dioxide (TiO2) contract range weakened by 5 cents/lb ($110/tonne, €81/tonne), sources confirmed on Monday, citing ample supply and seasonally slow demand.
The decline took the new contract to a range of $1.50-$1.65/lb, as assessed by ICIS.
The posted range drifted down, said market sources in the architectural coatings, paper and plastics compounding markets, despite recent talk of more normalised inventory levels of 60 days.
“Until the world economy gets chugging along,” a coatings maker said, “pricing will remain soft.”
Other buyers and a couple of sellers have saidthat price gains are not strongly likely until the second quarter of next year as the spring coatings season gets fully under way.
So far, only three of the five major domestic producers here have announced Q1 initiatives of either 5 cents/lb or 6 cents/lb.
Operating rates are still being heard somewhere in the 80% range, but a seller said last week that it is aiming for 50 days of inventory and production rates above 90% by the end of Q2 2014.
On the economic front, a key survey indicated that US small-business owners have lost confidence in the nation’s economic outlook, with hopes for hiring and sales falling sharply amid uncertainty about federal fiscal policies and the new national health care plan.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said small-business owners and operators cut plans to hire workers by 4 percentage points in October, cut capital spending plans by 2 points and lowered their expectations for expansion by 2 points.
Major US North American producers include DuPont, Tronox, Cristal, Kronos and Huntsman.
($1 = €0.74)
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