The steep rise in granite imports for April turned around in May, although the decline’s likely temporary.

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 May 2012 (change from May 2011 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: $101.0 million (+2.5%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ $45.7 million (+1.4%)

Backfill: Growth from May 2011 is soft, save for China at $24.2 million (up 28.5%). With the rest of granite’s Big Four countries, India takes a 17.8% dip to $13.9 million this May, and Italy slides 9.9% to $9.6 million. It’s a long reach to seventh-place Spain to find another gainer; while the Spanish granite totals grew by 63.5% from May 2011, the $1.4 million is a very small sliver of the market value.

WORKED GRANITE VOLUME
Total: 122,510 metric tons (-45.9%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ 53,404 metric tons (-6.9%)

Backfill: While the tonnage drops by nearly half from last year, it’s not a major market turnaround; India’s shipments in May 2011 were 80,000 metric tons more than its monthly average, skewing the year-to-year comparison. However, all of granite’s Big Four show a downturn from last May, with China (31,991 metric tons) down 37.8% and India (17,046 metric tons) plummeting 82.5%. Italy’s 6,534 metric tons is a 23.8% decline.

WORKED MARBLE VALUE
Total: $22.4 million (+22.1%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $11.6 million (+32.3%)

Backfill: Marble moves into sunnier days, as other major exporters record single-digit gains; China’s second-place of $3.9 million tops last May by 7.8%., followed by Spain ($1.9 million, up 8.2%) and Turkey ($1.6 million, up 9.7%). Among the sub-$1 million shippers, Israel records a stellar month at $404,250 (up 41.2%).

WORKED MARBLE VOLUME
Total: 18,042 metric tons (+15.5%)
Sector leader: Italy @ 5,931 metric tons (+36.3%)

Backfill: The news remains good with the major shippers in tonnage; Spain (2,105 metric tons) improves from last May by 7.7%, and it’s a 9.2% gain for Turkey (1,839 metric tons). China’s 5,253 metric tons doesn’t match last year, although the decline – 0.8% – is negligible.

TRAVERTINE VALUE
Total: $24.1 million (+4.5%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ $16.6 million (+9.3%)

Backfill: Second-place Mexico takes some of the steam out of this May, with its $3.8 million showing a 16.9% decline from last year. Italy continues its bit of market renaissance at $1.4 million (up 56.8%), and Peru makes the seven-figure club with $1.0 million (up 49.5%). China’s up-and-down performance in May ($757,952) is down 13.5% from last year, but up 54.5% from April 2012.

TRAVERTINE VOLUME
Total: 50,835 metric tons (+34.8%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ 36,464 metric tons (+25.5%)

Backfill: While Turkey bolsters May’s results, there’s also a strong case of the paradox puzzle; China shows a drop in value from last year, but its 1,822 metric tons is a 105.3% rise in volume. Adding to the oddities is Canada, which goes from shipping 10 (yes, ten) metric tons in May 2011, and 5,500 metric tons a year later.

OTHER CALCAREOUS VALUE
Total: $9.5 million (+24.1%)
Sector leader: Canada @ $1.7 million (+622.6%)

Backfill: Even if Canada’s wild rise (some $1.5 million above its monthly norm) is discounted, the category would show a gain from May 2011, thanks to strong showings from China ($1.6 million, up 29%) and Italy ($1.1 million, up 27%). In the less-than-a-million level, France tops the list (and is fourth-place overall) at $853,408, up 10.7%.