Q1 contract prices roll over but some producers are still seeking price increases from smaller buyers
North American titanium dioxide (TiO2) contract prices have settled late and flat for Q1 on market consensus, sources confirmed on 26 March, despite some reports of weakness.
Producers appeared able to stave off price erosion among most customers in the architectural coatings and plastics compounding markets, although there is active talk that producers are still seeking near-term increases, especially from smaller, more niche buyers, including those in plastics compounding. The rollover broadly held the Q1 contract range at $1.50-1.65/lb ($3,307-3,638/tonne) as assessed by ICIS.
US construction is still in the doldrums
Copyright: Rex Features
Other producers were said to have notified some buyers that they intend to seek undisclosed gains, effective 1 April, but no initiatives had surfaced publically.
A couple of buyers said they had not expected a price push until the third or fourth quarter of the year.
“I have heard that they were being very selective about the markets,” a buyer said. “I am sure they will push these increases to their distributors, but they don’t stand a chance with customers buying large volumes, direct. No [producer] wants to give up any volume, even though they are pitching an increase.”
Downstream, confidence among home builders increased in March, albeit marginally, despite lower housing sales in February.
Although the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market index still resides at a 10-month low, it increased to 47, up by one point from 46 in February, a level not seen since May 2013, when it was at 44.