* Sales of 1/10-ounce American Eagle coins up 118 pct YTD
* Suspension of 1/10-ounce sales first since 2009
* Demand has surged since bullion's historic price collapse
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NEW YORK, April 23 The U.S. Mint said it has
suspended sales of its one-tenth ounce American Eagle gold
bullion coins as surging demand after bullion's plunge to
two-year lows depleted the government's inventory.
This marks the first time it has stopped selling gold
product since November 2009, dealers said. A spokesman for the
Mint did not return calls seeking confirmation of that
The U.S. Mint, one of the world's leading gold and silver
coin producers, halts coin sales from time to time as it runs
out of coin blanks to meet increases in demand.
So far in April, the U.S. Mint has sold 175,000 ounces of
American Eagle gold coins, putting it on track to challenge a
high of 231,500 ounces set in December 2009.
Since last Monday, U.S. gold coins have been flying off
dealers' shelves as retail investors snap up bargains after
bullion's historic plunge in price and into bear territory.
Michael Kramer, president of Manfra, Tordella & Brookes
(MTB), a major U.S. coin dealer in New York, has been inundated
by orders from existing and new wholesale and retail customers.
"It's panic. This is one of the busiest times in quite a
while. People think gold's at the lows and they want to take
advantage," he said in an interview.
In contrast, investors bought bullion coins after the 2008
economic crisis for fears that they might miss out on gold's
Even after a small recovery this week from two-year lows of
$1,321 per ounce, gold prices are down 16 percent year-to-date
and are off 26 percent from the record highs of $1,920 per ounce
set in September 2011.
In a memo to its authorized purchases sent late Monday, the
Mint said that it continues to offer the one-ounce, one-half
ounce and one-quarter ounce coins.
While the one-ounce American Eagle gold coins remain the
most popular size, year-to-date demand for the one-tenth ounce
coins has been up over 118 percent compared to the same period
in 2012, the Mint said.
The spike in gold coin sales often reflects a desire among
mom-and-pop investors to have physical metal as a store of value
in troubled economic times.
Many analysts expect bullion to post its first annual loss
after 12 consecutive years of gains as investors seek out better
returns in other assets. U.S. equities have hit record highs.
Gold exchange-traded funds (ETF) have also been hit by a big
wave of redemptions as institutional investors pull cash out of
precious metals and retail investors seek physical coins and
In addition, the Mint has been allocating its silver coins
since late January due to strong demand and limited inventory.
(Reporting by Frank Tang and Josephine Mason; Editing by Gary
Hill and Bob Burgdorfer)