North America Q1 TiO2 prices move higher on supply, demand pressure

09 February 2018 23:00 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--North America Q1 TiO2 contract prices settled higher on Friday on continued pressure from healthy demand and tight supply.

Arrow upThe average 6 cent/lb ($132/tonne) increase took the new contract price to a range of 1.54-1.61/lb FD (free delivered), as assessed by ICIS.

The gain was at the low end of the separately proposed range of increases sought by most of the major producers.

Some customers took increases on 1 January. For others, increases came on or after 1 February.

It was the seventh consecutive US quarterly TiO2 increase since the market began to tighten in early 2016 in the wake of global capacity rationalisation.

A buyer said this week that it continues to see some tightening in the market but that none of its orders through the peak US spring paint and coatings season has been cancelled.

Concerns have surfaced that typical peak spring coatings demand may prompt either TiO2 order cancellations or further delivery delays amid pent-up demand from rebuilds and repaints after hurricanes Harvey and Irma and California wildfires and mudslides.

One TiO2 increase for the second quarter has been heard but not confirmed.

Sources say they expect ongoing quarterly price-hike efforts, especially because tight conditions are not expected to improve for the rest of 2018 and beyond.

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In market news, the effort by Tronox to acquire Cristal may not be resolved until much later this year, a buyer suggested.

Tronox had originally predicted the deal could close by the end of the first quarter of 2018, but the company is mired in a legal battle with the US Federal Trade Commission.

Tronox has received approvals for the deal from seven out of nine jurisdictions, with only the US and EU remaining.

In December 2017, the European Commission began a “Phase II” review of the proposed merger to determine whether or not the deal would substantially impede competition in the European Economic Area.

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.

By Larry Terry