Posted on the 12-07-2018
LONDON (ICIS)--Low year-end activity and lengthy supply in the European titanium dioxide (TiO2) market has led to bearish sentiment, and this could continue into the first quarter of 2019, if market conditions remain subdued.
Spot prices have fallen during the fourth quarter amid inventory pressures, and spot prices are currently trading at significantly lower levels when compared to the Q4 contract price range.
Domestic spot prices continue to be heard around €2,400-2,500/tonne FCA (free carrier) on a purchase basis this week, according to one trader.
Initial contract indications suggest that downward price pressure is likely in the first quarter, if demand remains muted and material remains abundant.
Views about the possible level of decrease in the first quarter vary from triple digits to a more modest reduction.
Rollovers, however, are also being discussed for the first quarter, particularly in view of Chemours’ longer-term value stabilisation contract program.
The company's strategy is to shift buyers onto multi-year contracts as opposed to the more standard quarterly models, which it claims will limit volatility and ensure some volume flexibility.
However, some buyers are reluctant to accept longer-term contracts for the time being, based on the expectation that prices could come down further.
Material is readily available. Demand fell in December for seasonal and year-end working capital/inventory related reasons.Bearish market sentiment, along with economic uncertainty is likely to be stifling activity to some extent.
European TiO2 contract prices in the fourth quarter were assessed at €2.65-2.94/kilogram (kg), down by €0.10-0.15/kg from the previous quarter.
The price downtrend in Europe in the third and fourth quarters of 2018 marked a clear change in sentiment, following the sharp and successive price uptrend from the second quarter of 2016 to the second quarter of 2018 when the market was tight.
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