September 11, 2015 / 2:46 PM / 4 years ago

US, European gold coin sales surge in third quarter

* US, European Mints report jump in Q3 sales

* Retail demand driven by market volatility, low prices

By Jan Harvey and Marcy Nicholson

LONDON/NEW YORK, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Gold coin sales in the United States and Europe have surged in the third quarter, with sales from the U.S. Mint reaching levels not seen since the price crash of 2013, as low prices and a series of market shocks fuel retail buying.

Sales of gold American Eagles have nearly trebled year on year in the third quarter with most of September still to go, reaching 322,000 ounces. That’s the highest of any quarter since the gold crash of 2013.

“The industry has been on an absolute tear for the last three months,” Scott Spitzer, chief operating officer at Manfra, Tordella & Brookes in New York, said. “Every time there’s been a break in the price and there’s been volatility, there has been enormous growth in retail interest.”

The surge in retail buying in 2013 came on the back of a dramatic reversal in a decade-long rally in gold prices, with buyers scrambling for bargains after a $200 plunge in gold prices in just three days.

The 6 percent drop in prices this year has been less dramatic, but has been accompanied by a highly turbulent period in stock markets, and fears over the stability of the euro zone.

“Price is still the main driver - there was a 10 percent peak to trough price fall between mid June and early August,” GFMS analyst Ling Wong said.

“That said, gold did fall quite a bit between January and March this year without any significant response on bullion sales. What’s different this time round is the general economic backdrop we are operating against - the markets are worrying about Greek default...and arguably more worrying recently, China.”

Concerns over slowing Chinese growth flared after the central bank devalued the yuan, knocking Chinese stocks and helping put world shares on track for their biggest quarterly drop in four years. European assets also came under pressure in July from fears that Greece was set to crash out of the euro.

The Austrian Mint, which produces gold and silver Philharmonic coins, said sales of its gold coins more than trebled year on year in July and August to 321,500 ounces, citing lower prices, ultra-low interest rates, stock market volatility and fears of a ‘Grexit’.

The UK’s Royal Mint said it has seen significant increases in Sovereign and Britannia coin sales throughout the past three months, particularly in July. Sales are more than 50 percent higher than during the second quarter, it said.

Degussa, a leading German coin and bar dealer with sales of 700 million euros in the first half of 2015, said its gold sales this quarter have been 30 percent higher year on year.

“We had a fantastic month in July with large coin and bar sales,” Chief Executive Wolfgang Wrzesnioch-Rossbach said. “August was quieter, but still saw 20-30 percent higher demand compared to last year.” (Reporting by Jan Harvey in London and Marcy Nicholson in New York; editing by Susan Thomas)

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