(Adds comment from the Mint, dealers, background)
By Frank Tang
NEW YORK, March 5 The U.S. Mint said it will
resume selling its American Eagle platinum bullion coins on
March 10, ending a four-year exit from the market, due to
renewed interest from investors and dealers.
The U.S. Mint will offer the platinum bullion coins at a 4
percent premium over the spot price. Only 1-ounce coins will be
sold, the Mint told authorized dealers in an email on Tuesday
that was seen by Reuters.
Tom Jurkowsky, U.S. Mint's director of corporate
communications, told Reuters the Mint notified its authorized
purchasers about the platinum coin sales on Tuesday.
The Mint has built up an inventory ahead of the coins going
on sale, the email said.
Michael Kramer, president of Manfra, Tordella & Brookes, a
major U.S. coin wholesaler in New York, said dealers have
already received significant advanced orders following Tuesday's
"We have already sold 1,000 of them without even trying," he
The Mint stopped producing platinum bullion coins in 2008 as
collectors and retail investors bought fewer coins after prices
soared at the start of that year. Interest turned to gold coins
as a safe-haven investment later that year at the height of the
world economic crisis.
The price of spot platinum skyrocketed to a record
high of almost $2,300 an ounce in March 2008. It plummeted to
$730 in October 2008, losing slightly more than two-thirds of
its value from its peak as the financial crisis sapped demand
for the metal mainly used in auto catalytic converters.
The American Eagle platinum coins will compete with
lower-premium products such as the Royal Canadian Mint's
Platinum Maple Leaf coins, small bar products and coins from
other mints, dealers said.
The weight, content and purity of American Eagle gold,
silver and platinum coins are guaranteed by the U.S. government.
These coins are approved investment products in Individual
Retirement Accounts (IRAs) in the United States.
PLATINUM DEMAND SEEN IMPROVING
Gold's record drop of 28 percent last year and a better tone
in the global economy have rekindled investor interest in
platinum over gold, traders said.
Kramer said sales of platinum bars to retail dealers have
picked up "quite a bit" in the last two weeks.
Platinum prices have strengthened on better U.S. and Asian
auto demand as well as on supply fears caused by mine violence
and crippling strikes in top producer South Africa. More than
half of the world's annual platinum output is used in auto
catalytic converters to clean harmful tailpipe emissions.
In 2013, platinum's prices outperformed gold and silver.
Though the last few months of the year, institutional investors
fled bullion as an inflation hedge on expectations that the U.S.
Federal Reserve would begin tapering its gold-friendly stimulus
For 2014 so far, platinum has gained about 8 percent,
compared with gold's rise of 11 percent and silver's 9 percent
(Reporting by Frank Tang; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Jan