StatWatch: U.S. Stone Imports, March 2011

StatWatch is a snapshot of U.S. dimensional-stone imports, offering a summary and exclusive Stone Business analysis of data from the U.S. International Trade Commission. Comparisons are made mainly on an annual level to gauge market trends. Analysis is made on import figures of the latest month available.

All figures give are for March 2011 (change from March 2010 amounts in parentheses). “Worked” stone is material that’s shorn from boulders and blocks, and then cut in standard dimensional measures (such as slabs and tiles) and polished (at least once, one side).

$66.5 million (5.2%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ $31.8 million (27.1%)

Backfill: Take the good news and run with it, as India also makes a major move in March 2011 with $10.8 million (up 25.2% from last year). After that, worked-granite values get a bit rugged: China, $9.5 million (down 35.0%); Italy ($8.9 million, down 2.3%); Canada ($1.9 million, down 12.3%); Taiwan ($1.3 million, down 17.0%); Spain ($945,151, down 3.7%). It takes that long to find the next positive, with Saudi Arabia moving up 25.2% to $503,059.

Total: 76,680 metric tons (-15.8%)
Sector leader: Brazil @  38,709 metric tons (21.4%)

Backfill: India offered the drag-anchor this February in curbing slab/tile granite shipments. In March, it’s China, with its 11,610 metric tons representing a 65.5% dive from last year (and a big swoon from this January’s 41,770 metric tons). India turns directions again, moving up 7.3% from last March with 13,756 metric tons; Italy, meanwhile, stays relatively steady at $5,969 (down only 1.2%).

$14.5 million (1.3%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $7.3 million (31.1%)

Backfill: The better news in marble slabs/tiles comes with volume, although most of the major exporters offer some positives in value; Spain grows by 10.3% from last March at $1.8 million, and Turkey gets a 13.5% lift to $1.5 million. It’s China that takes the sizzle down to the fizzle, dropping 33.5% to $2.08 million and recording its worst month in worked-marble values in two years ($2.04 million, March 2009).

14,543 metric tons (5.4%)
Sector leader: Italy @ 4,664 metric tons (85.5%)

Backfill: Italy’s gain comes at China’s expense; after leading the category for four months running, China’s 2,474 metric tons in March 2011 marks a 41.1% slide from the previous year. Spain peps up its U.S. shipments from March 2010 by 19.8% with 2,335 metric tons, while fourth-place Turkey manages to match last year’s total – 1,858 metric tons – right on the button this March.

Total: $22.0 million (4.7%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ $14.9 million (11.7%)

Backfill: This sector goes wherever Turkey takes it, and this month the direction is up. The increase in custom values comes in spite of declines from second-place Mexico ($4.4 million, down 3.5% from March 2010) and #3 Italy $918,807 (down 28.7%). As is often the case with stone imports, though, changes in value don’t turn into less volume.

Total: 38,411 metric tons (9.9%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ 29,232 metric tons (7.3%)

Backfill: Turkey gets a hand from most of the countries exporting travertine to the United States this month. Mexico increases shipments for the third month in a row (5,720 metric tons, up 12.2% from March 2010), and Peru’s 820 metric tons shows a 10.4% boost from last year. At 1,434 metric tons in March 2011, China scores a 193.3% increase from a low point last year … but down sharply from its shipments this February.

Total: $7.6 million (-13.7%)
Sector leader: Portugal @ $1.07 million (0.3%)

Backfill: In two months, the usual notation about the mysterious disappearance of Lebanon from the market will disappear – but, until then, this is a sector where comparisons to 2010 hold dubious value. Portugal barely edges out Italy’s $1.03 million in March 2011; however, Italy also takes a 40.9% dive from last year. Mexico makes a nice recovery at $926,771 (up 38.4%). China’s $764,027, meanwhile looks good when compared to March 2011 (up 8.5%), but it’s far short of the country’s $1.1 million from this February.

Total: 15,875 metric tons (-77.7%)
Sector leader: Mexico @ 9,558 metric tons (1,647.3%)

Backfill: The best guess here is that somebody north of Nuevo Laredo really loves Mexican limestone; last year, the country rarely shipped more than 500 metric tons a month of other calcareous across the border. Without the Mexican bonanza, this category’s tonnage would reach near-mortal losses; #2 Spain weighs in at 1,063 metric tons (up 40.2% from March 2010). Point of interest in 2011: In February, China cut its tonnage to half of its January total … and did the same halving act from February to March.

Total: $3.9 million (5.7%)
Sector leader: India @ $2.0 million (33.4%)

Backfill: After perking along as the market leader for the last 10 months, China hits the brakes; the $866,028 for this March is a 32.6% drop from a year ago. Along with sector leader India, the United Kingdom ($352,541, up 182.5%) helps to pick up the slack.

Total: $12.3 million (-23.8%)
Sector leader: India @ $4.5 million (-17.4%)

Backfill: This omnibus (i.e., “what’s left”) category used to be so moribund that it didn’t seem worth tracking. Now it’s an up-and-down journey, and this month’s it’s down. All the million-dollar-plus importers take the fall: Brazil (-51.0%), China (-20.3%), Canada (-42.6%) and Italy (-1.7%, and enough to knock it down to under $1 million).

Total: 14,909 metric tons (-25.56%)
Sector leader: India @ 5,595 metric tons (-19.2%)

Backfill: When the top three importing countries to the United States fall off in shipments, the whole category’s going to slump. Brazil’s 2,867 metric tons (-57.0% from last March) is the worst since 2009; China also falls by 11.6 % to 1,538 metric tons. Turkey, at 1,284 metric tons, manages to far surpass last March – which isn’t hard, given the paltry 113 metric tons from a year ago.

Emerson Schwartzkopf

You can read up-to-the-minute news on the dimensional-stone trade and search the archives at Stone Business Online.

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One response to “StatWatch: U.S. Stone Imports, March 2011

  1. Thanks for the information I didn’t know that all that information about those materials were in one place!

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