December 31, 2018 / 10:55 PM / 20 days ago

U.S. Mint American Eagle 2018 gold, silver coin sales at 11-year lows

FILE PHOTO: One ounce silver coins undergo washing at the cleaning facility at the United States West Point Mint facility in West Point, New York June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. Mint sales of American Eagle gold and silver coins dropped to their lowest in 11 years during 2018, U.S. Mint data showed on Monday, as investors favored higher-yielding assets, despite global stock and bond market volatility late in the year.

Total 2018 sales of American Eagle gold coins sold by the U.S. Mint reached 245,500 ounces, the lowest on a year-over-year basis since 2007. The Mint sold 3,000 ounces of gold coins in December, 85.4 percent lower than November sales, the data showed.

Silver coin sales were 15.7 million ounces, also the lowest since 2007 on an annual basis, according to the U.S. Mint. December American Eagle silver coin sales reached 490,000 ounces, down 70.2 percent from the month prior.

Investors concentrated on buying more older coins at lower premiums, U.S. dealers said.

Sales of American Eagle coins by the U.S. Mint fell in consecutive months for the first five months of the year, the data showed. Sentiment changed in the summer, when a trade war between the United States and China sparked a temporary move toward safer assets.

Gold is traditionally a safe-haven commodity that investors buy during times of economic and geopolitical uncertainty to store the value of their assets.

However, that momentum waned later in the year, even as stock markets slid further, because the U.S. dollar increased in value. This made dollar-denominated gold more expensive for holders using other currencies and a less attractive investment.

The U.S. Mint sold American Eagle palladium coins for the first time in 2017, but sold none in 2018. Just 30,000 ounces of American Eagle platinum coins were sold during 2018.

Reporting by Renita D. Young; editing by Grant McCool

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