US Mint's gold coin sales down 60 pct in Feb as old-coin supply rises

Fri Feb 28, 2014 4:37pm EST

NEW YORK, Feb 28 (Reuters) - 0Sales of the U.S. Mint's
American Eagle gold coins fell around 60 percent year-on-year in
February as a surge in secondary sales by institutional
investors dented new-coin sales, dealers said.
    The U.S. Mint sold a total of 31,000 ounces of American
Eagle gold bullion coins in February, compared with 80,500
ounces in the same month last year, the Mint data showed.
    "Last few weeks, large players such as hedge funds sold a
lot of coins in sealed boxes which they bought from a few years
ago," said Michael Kramer, president of Manfra, Tordella &
Brookes, a major U.S. coin wholesaler in New York.
    Dealers said that a move by the U.S. Mint to mix 2014-dated
coins with 2013 coins to deplete last year's inventories
continued to dampen new coin sales.
    Gold prices rose 7 percent in February, their biggest
monthly rise in seven, as persistent concerns about a slowdown
in the U.S. economy boosted bullion's safe-haven status. 
    A continued sharp recovery of gold prices could rekindle
bullion coin interest among retail investors, dealers said.
    In January, typically the busiest month of the year, U.S.
gold coin sales were 91,500 ounces, representing a 40 percent
drop year-on-year as uncertainty over bullion prices continued
to dampen interest from collectors.  
    For American Eagle silver bullion coins, the U.S. Mint sold
a total of 3.75 million ounces in February, versus the 3.37
million ounces sold in February 2013.
    Since January 2013, the Mint has been selling silver coins
on an allocation, or rationing, basis to its dealers due to
limited coin blanks.
    
  (in ounces)       Gold                   Silver         
                    2014        2013        2014        2013
 January         91,500      150,000     4,775,000   7,498,000
 February        31,000      80,500      3,750,000   3,368,500
                                                     
 YTD Total       122,500     230,500     8,525,000   10,866,500
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