200_marbleIs the recovery continuing for stone? The data from U.S. ports-of-entry offers a mixed report; most categories and countries are building up from 2010, but a single country -- and it's a big one -- may cast some uncertainty.

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).

Total: $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%).

Total: $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).

Total: 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.