North America TiO2 seasonal demand uptick anticipated

Source: ICIS News

2019/03/22

HOUSTON (ICIS)--While there is already little or no support for North America second-quarter TiO2 price increases, buyers and sellers are mildly optimistic that the spring paint and coatings season will bring somewhat higher volumes year on year.

Demand is not expected to be seasonally robust this spring, but it will gain momentum in April and May. If that improvement is realised, some pricing power may be realised in the second half of the year.

For now, TiO2 supply is not under duress, mostly because demand has been slow to gain momentum amid economic and weather-related headwinds.

Although paint blending began in February, extremely low temperatures and record-breaking rainfall this past winter has been a major cause of delayed pigment demand and downstream coatings interest.

Year-on-year hopes for the 2019 paint season are modest. A paint maker said it has orders on the books, but product is not yet moving as quickly as it usually does by the outset of spring.

The first-quarter domestic TiO2 range is $1.59-1.67/lb FD (free delivered), as assessed by ICIS.ICIS Editorial Chart goes here

While separate price-increase initiatives (see table below) intended for second-quarter implementation remain on the table, buyer sentiment continues to trend toward rollovers during the coming quarter.

Current price-hike initiatives affecting US customers are as follows, with implementation dates allowing for 90-day price protection common in the domestic TiO2 market. Lomon Billions exports material to the US.

Producer Cents/lb Effective date Implement date
Venator 7 1 February 1 May
Lomon Billions 5 12 February 12 May
Kronos 3 1 March 1 June

TiO2 is used in products such as paints and coatings – including glazes and enamels – plastics, paper, inks, fibres, foods, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

Major US TiO2 suppliers include Chemours, Cristal, Kronos, Tronox and Venator.