U.S. Stone Import StatWatch, October 2009

Dimensional-stone imports show a few bright spots, and the worst seems to be over. However, don’t expect major improvement anytime soon.

The following is taken from data collected by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission. All figures give are for October 2009 (change from October 2008 amounts in parentheses). “Worked” stone is material that’s been shorn from boulders and blocks, and then cut in standard dimensional measures (such as slabs and tiles) and polished.

Worked Granite Value
Total: $66.5 million (-36.4%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ $25.1 million (-14.45%)
Backfill: The value attributed to granite coming into the country continues its lackluster pace, although it’s not plumbing dramatic new depths. Brazil seems to be suffering less than other countries, mainly due to value declines in late 2008.

Worked Granite Volume
Total: 142,568 metric tons (-17.95%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ 53,554 metric tons (-5.42%)
Backfill: Brazil’s getting back to business with import levels getting close to 2008 levels, but other major exporters are still lagging – India and China are 12.2% and 26.6%, respectively, behind October 2008. Italy’s 4,441 metric tons in October 2009 is one of its worst showings of the decade.

Worked Marble Value
Total: $13.9 million (-39.68%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $5.8 million (-37.81%)
Backfill: Italy maintains its lead over China (which recorded $3.4 million in October 2009) but things aren’t entirely rosy. That $5.8 million is the second-worst monthly tally in 2009 for Italy, and way below the $10.1 million mark it reached in August.

Worked Marble Volume
Total: 12,627 metric tons (-34.18%)
Sector leader: China @ 5,433 metric tons (+15.89%)
Backfill: China provides one of the few positives in U.S. stone imports, recording seven straight months of tonnage growth. Italy posts 2,663 metric tons for the month, down 47.72 percent from October 2008. Former powerhouse Spain drops to fourth in import volume, falling behind Turkey.

Travertine Value
Total: $19.8 million (-38.59%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ $13.2 million (-38.79%)
Backfill: As Turkey goes, the U.S. travertine market follows; even with a hefty decline in value, the country still contributes more than 68 percent of the total. No importing country made any gains; the United Arab Emirates takes a 79.6-percent drop from the previous October.

Travertine Volume
Total: 40.993 metric tons (-35.40%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ 26,712 metric tons (-47.44%)
Backfill: While Turkey still imports more than half of all travertine coming into U.S. ports-of-entry, Mexico shows some market muscle this fall. Its 11,193 metric tons represents a 39.66% gain from the previous October.

Other Calcareous Value
Total: $7.9 million (-50.16%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $1.1 million (-50.18%)
Backfill: Nobody’s a winner in this category; the first positive comes with Canada’s 27.44% increase from October 2008; unfortunately, our northern neighbor only contributed import values of $488,929. Lebanon’s $661,354 offers another loop in the country’s rollercoaster performance – in September 2009, it exported absolutely nothing in other calcareous to the United States.

Slate Value
Total: $4.3 million (-39.96%)
Sector leader: India @ $1.97 million (-37-23%)
Backfill: India and China continue their slate U.S. import duel; India led in August, China tallied more value in September, and India moves back on top in October. Unfortunately, both find values dropping by more than 30 percent from last October. Brazil, meanwhile, sees the value of its U.S. slate shipments drop by 68.52%.

Emerson Schwartzkopf

You can read up-to-the-minute news on the dimensional-stone trade and search the archives at Stone Business Online, where you can also find Blogs at the Main Menu.

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