U.S. gold coins on track for weakest September sales in five years

NEW YORK Fri Sep 28, 2012 11:15am EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - September sales of U.S. American Eagle gold coins are set to be the lowest since 2007, but central banks' monetary stimulus and economic uncertainty could rekindle interest from retail investors in the fourth quarter, dealers said.

Coin dealers said sales have rebounded of late as bullion prices rose to within striking distance of this year's high after the U.S. Federal Reserve said earlier this month it would pump $40 billion into the U.S. economy each month until it saw a sustained upturn in the weak jobs market.

"Business has picked up in the last few weeks," said Michael Kramer, president of Manfra, Tordella & Brookes (MTB), a major U.S. coin dealer in New York.

"People want to see direction here. When gold went up to $1,900 an ounce last year, it was the busiest time for us selling merchandise," Kramer said.

Investors have so far this month bought 68,500 ounces of American Eagles produced by the U.S. Mint, marking the weakest September sales since 2007, data from the Mint's website shows.

On a quarterly basis, American Eagle coin sales are also on track for the worst third quarter since 2007.

September saw the second highest monthly sales this year after January's brisk 127,000 ounces.

American Eagle gold coin sales tend to be highly seasonal, with the strongest performance at the start of the year as investors seek the newest edition. Sales are usually the lowest in the summer months and tend to pick up again in September in tandem with the start of the Indian wedding season and the lunar new year between January and February.

The price of gold traded at around $1,770 an ounce on Friday, within reach of a 2012 high of $1,790.30 an ounce. The metal is poised to post a gain of over 11 percent for the third quarter, the biggest rise since the second quarter of 2010.

"On rallies of gold, people are more interested in buying coins," Kramer said.

Kramer said he expects Eagle gold coin sales to rebound in the fourth quarter on a better gold price outlook and political uncertainty related to the closely watched U.S. presidential and Congressional elections in November.

American Eagle silver coin sales in September were at 3.255 million ounces, down around 30 percent year-on-year.

(Reporting By Frank Tang; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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