Asia TiO2 December outlook bearish as Chinese demand shrivels up

Leanne Tan


SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s titanium dioxide (TiO2) market outlook in December remains bearish, with demand in China expected to taper down in the weeks ahead.

Conditions in downstream markets remain dismal amid the protracted US-China trade war and lingering macroeconomic concerns. Consequently, demand for TiO2 pigments in China has also suffered.

Even with the news that China and the US have agreed to a phased roll-back of tariffs, many market players deem it premature to assume that the trade dispute could be imminently resolved.

Moreover, demand for TiO2 in China is seasonally slower during the winter months.

Towards the end of the year, domestic demand for downstream paint and coating applications typically tapers down in the northern regions of the country, which usually experience harsh winters.

Chinese suppliers are also bracing for slower export demand from Europe and in temperate regions.

However, some suppliers were optimistic of steady demand from some other regions.

“The southern parts of China see much milder winters, so demand from the paints sector from this region, as well as from southeast Asia, won’t be as greatly impacted,” a Chinese producer noted.

Meanwhile, supply is likely to remain ample relative to demand.

Some suppliers have commenced destocking activities and were willing to negotiate prices to close deals and boost cargo uptake before the end of the year.

Others who were not facing any significant inventory pressures sought to maintain offers in order to safeguard margins.

TiO2 Chinese spot export prices were last assessed at $2,000-2,150/tonne CFR (cost & freight) Asia on 22 November, according to ICIS data.

Focus article by Leanne Tan

Photo: Cans of paint. TiO2 is used as a white powder pigment in products such as paints, coatings, plastics, paper, inks, fibres, food and cosmetics. (Source: imageBROKER/Shutterstock)

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