HOUSTON (ICIS)--North American titanium dioxide (TiO2) contract prices for the fourth-quarter increased on Friday on tight supply and unseasonably healthy demand.
Most of the domestic producers separately sought fourth-quarter increases of 6-8 cents/lb ($132-176/tonne) for basic grades, though some sellers targeted higher gains for specialty grades.
Increases were confirmed at or below targeted levels, taking the new range to $1.48-1.55/tonne FD (free delivered), as assessed by ICIS.
On the demand front, despite fourth-quarter holidays including Christmas and the US Thanksgiving holiday, storm-recovery efforts could keep current demand levels atypically strong during the period.
While the year’s final fiscal quarter usually prompts de-stocking, tight supply and expected strong downstream coatings demand next spring defy typical late-year fundamentals.
Tight conditions have persisted since early last year, and have brought a stream of of accompanying price increases.
One producer, in its third-quarter earnings report, conceded that the global TiO2 environment favours further earnings and cash-flow improvement.
Kronos previously announced it is seeking a 7 cent/lb gain, effective 1 November.
Allowing for 90-day price protection granted to most contract customers, a successful Kronos effort would push its prices higher on or after 1 February.
Other increase initiatives for early next year were heard in the market, but none was confirmed this week.
Logistics hurdles in the trucking sector will continue, a chemicals buyer said, but more from a lack of drivers thank from a lack of trucks, another source suggested.
Suppliers are asking for more lead time in order to secure available carriers, another source said. And a seller conceded that transportation logistics may continue to be problematic for months to come.
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.