UPDATE 1-February U.S. Mint American Eagle gold coin sales quadruple yr/yr

(Rewrites throughout to add milestones, background)
    NEW YORK, Feb 29 (Reuters) - American Eagle gold coin sales
in February more than quadrupled year-over-year as bullion
prices surged to a one-year high, U.S. Mint data showed on
Monday, confirming anecdotal information that the rally has
spurred a flurry of demand.
    In February, the mint sold 83,500 ounces of American Eagle
gold coins, down 33 percent from a four-month high reached in
January but more than four times the 18,500 ounces sold in
February 2015, the data showed.
    Gold has regained its safe-haven appeal so far in 2016, with
spot gold prices surging more than 16 percent this year
on global economic growth concerns and decreasing expectations
that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in the
near future.
    On Feb. 11, the metal gained the most in one day in more
than seven years to $1,260.60 an ounce, the highest in a year.
U.S. dealers said this spurred a coin buying frenzy, with small
and large investors betting that volatile currencies and global
economic concerns would lift its value even higher. 
    The foray back into gold came after John Paulson, one of the
world's most influential gold investors, slashed his bullish
bets on bullion at the end of last year. Others, such as Soros
Fund Management LLC and Jana Partners LLC, had already
eliminated large stakes in the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF
earlier in the year and stayed out. 
    Sales of American Eagle silver coins reached 4.78 million
ounces in February, down 20 percent from January but up 58
percent from a year ago, the data showed.

 (Reporting by Marcy Nicholson; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)