U.S. Stone Imports, August 2011

Marble, travertine and other calcareous stone remain strong through the summer. Granite, however, is lagging.

StatWatch is a snapshot of U.S. dimensional-stone imports, offering a summary and exclusive Stone Update 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 August 2011 (change from August 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). “Value” represents the declared customs value of stone.

WORKED GRANITE VALUE
Total: $96.1 million (-3.7%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ $40.7 million (-7.0%)

Backfill: The heady growth of early summer in granite imports is fizzling out; besides Brazil’s slowdown in customs values, China’s $19.8 million is a 7.8% decline from August 2010. India manages to step up by 9.9% to $16.3 million, while Italy’s loss is marginal (-0.9%) at  $11.9 million.

WORKED GRANITE VOLUME
Total: 115,729 metric tons (-36.0%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ 47,627 metric tons (-51.7%)

Backfill: Tonnage totals fall for most countries during a month that often shows large gains in a year. China’s 28,437 metric tons is 35.8% less than the previous August; Italy shows a 20.9% drop with 8,094 metric tons. Only India gains among granite’s Big Four, with 21,289 metric tons representing a 13.8% rise..

WORKED MARBLE VALUE
Total: $23.8 million (18.3%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $11.3 million (26.4%)

Backfill: It’s a happy time for marble with double-digit growth in customs values, fueled mainly by Italy and an on-the-rebound Turkey with $2.5 million, up 80.7% from August 2010. China ($4.5 million, up 7.2%) and Spain ($2.3 million, up 10.0%) also pitch in to boost the market.

WORKED MARBLE VOLUME
Total: 20,408 metric tons (17.3%)
Sector leader: China @ 6,558 metric tons (20.3%)

Backfill: The double figures aren’t dipping in marble tonnage, either. China moves back into first place, but Italy trails closely with 6,013 metric tons, up 21.1% from the previous August. Turkey makes a strong recovery at 2,611 metric tons (up 40.4%); Spain gains some ground at 2,484 metric tons (up 2.8%).

TRAVERTINE VALUE
Total: $26.0 million (16.5%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ $17.1 million (18.9%)

Backfill: Everybody pitches in to improve from August 2010, from Turkey to Mexico ($4.6 million. up 12.5%) to Italy ($1.4 million, up 22.6%) to China ($1.3 million, up 10.2%). While Peru didn’t make the million-dollar club, the $882K in value beats the previous August by 14.3%.

TRAVERTINE VOLUME
Total: 52,082 metric tons (38.2%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ 38,382 metric tons (36.9%)

Backfill: Close your eyes and it’s 2005 again, with a growth curve headed for Mars, with Italy showing a 54.8% gain from August 2010 at 1,286 metric tons and Peru scoring a 18.3% gain at 885 metric tons. Mexico, however, takes a 8.3% step down at 5,240 metric tons. And, like Canada last month, China gets a mysterious inflation of shipments – from 1,679 metric tons this July to 5,706 metric tons a month later.

OTHER CALCAREOUS VALUE
Total: $8.6 million (1.9%)
Sector leader: China @ $1.3 million (38.6%)

Backfill: It’s another round of musical chairs for this sector, with China taking the lead again with Italy a close second at $1.2 million (down 4.0% from August 2010). All the other countries dip below the seven-figure mark; last month’s front-runner, Portugal slips to $991K (down 1.6% from the previous August). Meanwhile, it’s double-digit annual growth for France ($891K, 14.2%) and Spain ($855K, up 21.6%).

OTHER CALCAREOUS VOLUME
Total: 8,433 metric tons (10.0%)
Sector leader: China @ 1,457 metric tons (60.3%)

Backfill: The rollercoaster brings Canada to the fore with 1,009 metric tons, up 149.1% from August 2010, while Portugal drops to 802 metric tons (down 16.7%). Pakistan, with 1,065 metric tons shipped this July, sends just 45 metric tons in the next month; and Mexico, with two 9,000+ metric-ton months earlier this year, accounts for only 485 metric tons in August.

SLATE VALUE
Total: $5.3 million (-11.7%)
Sector leader: China @ $2.5 million (-3.1%)

Backfill: Slate’s up-and-down year hits the down button, with India’s $1.9 million adding up to a 20.4% decline from the previous August. The United Kingdom also hits the skids this year, going from a high of $352K in March to only $26K this August. Brazil provides welcome contrary relief with a 5.9% gain from August 2010 with its $560K.

OTHER STONE VALUE
Total: $16.8 million (-26.1%)
Sector leader: India @ $5.1 million (-26.5%)

Backfill: Beating August 2010 comes easily for China ($2.9 million, up 49.2%) and Italy ($1.8 million, up 37.8%), but they can’t offset losses from sector leader India and Brazil ($3.3 million, down 58.2%). Canada’s positive position from this July turns round in the following month, with its $1.4 million falling 18.7% behind the previous August.

OTHER STONE VOLUME
Total: 19,071 metric tons (-35.0%)
Sector leader: India @ 6,096 metric tons (-28.6%)

Backfill: China offers the only shard of good news in August, with its 3,680 metric tons beating the previous year by 21.9%. Otherwise, the performances range from dismal (Canada, 1,946 metric tons, down 11.4%) to painful (Brazil, 3,774 metric tons, down 64.9%).


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