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Updated to Q4 2016
Asia titanium dioxide (TiO2) market prices increased for a third consecutive quarter on the back of tight supply in Q4. Producers raised their offer prices regularly to recoup higher production costs. Producers in China faced production issues as a result of more regular and strictly enforced shut downs ordered by the environmental inspection authorities to curb water and air pollution during winter months. Feedstock ilmenite prices also rose on higher transportation costs and limited production capacity because of environment inspections. Spot availability for non-Chinese cargoes were tight as well due to production issues in other regions. However, buyers were not ready to fully accept the new price reality, and a wide buy-sell gap hampered trades in the region. Buyers in southeast Asia only managed to procure cargoes at hand-to-mouth level in reaction of the price increases. Many lamented that they struggled to pass through the price hikes in TiO2 to their downstream customers amid lukewarm demand in Asia. Demand in India was severely affected by the demonetisation reforms carried out by the Indian government. Paints and coating industries which procure TiO2 are negatively impacted by the reform which decreased the demand for TiO2 in India significantly.
Updated to Q4 2016
The majority of Q4 European titanium dioxide (TiO2) contract prices have firmed. This was despite low seasonality for certain sectors, as profitability improvement in the industry and continued reduced supply amid stricter inventory controls and recent restructuring measures remain the overriding factors. Firm import sentiment from Asia has also helped to support the price rises in Europe. Increases of €50-100/tonne were frequently heard for standard paints and coatings grade TiO2 for Q4. Some players said rises were typically larger for chloride-based TiO2 when compared to sulphate-based product, believed to be for availability reasons. For standard paints and coatings grade TiO2, price rises of €50-80/tonne were typically heard for sulphate-based product, with hikes closer to €100/tonne for chloride-based product. Similar to larger price rises of €80-€150/tonne were typically heard for specialty grade TiO2 from the downstream plastics and paper laminate sectors. This was linked to some tightness noted for certain specialty grades of TiO2 for structural supply and demand related reasons. By contrast, lesser price rises of €20-30/tonne and rollovers were heard in one or two cases for Q4, but they were not seen to reflect the general market trend for Q4 in Europe.
Updated to Q4 2016
North American titanium dioxide (TiO2) contract prices were assessed at rollovers during the fourth quarter of 2016 on two factors – less oversupply following a strong spring and steady summer, and unusually steady demand further into the typically weakest period of the year.
All but one of the major North American producers had separately proposed increases averaging 7 cents/lb ($154/tonne) for the period, but the efforts were broadly rebuffed.
Despite diminishing demand, inventories were said to be low enough to hold fourth-quarter values flat.
Sources said rationalisation of some global capacity over the past 18 months, including some in the US, had dried up some of the overcapacity in the market.
Sources added that in 2017 and beyond, the domestic TiO2 market will begin to see sellers realise more pricing power, both on more supply-demand balance and some upstream price pressure.
Seasonally, the first quarter of each year heightens TiO2 buying interest as paint makers buy pigment to begin blending paint for the US spring paint and coatings season.
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ICIS price assessments are based on information gathered from a wide cross-section of the market, comprising consumers, producers, traders and distributors from more than 250 reporters world-wide. Confirmed deals, verified by both buyer and seller, provide the foundation of our price assessments.
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