Sales of American Eagle silver coins by the U.S. Mint reached almost 40.2 million ounces, surpassing the annual record, as the futures market rallied from the lowest in 34 months.
Authorized purchasers bought the full weekly allocation of 500,000 coins, boosting the total this year above the previous all-time high of almost 39.9 million ounces in 2011, the mint said Tuesday in an e-mail. In January, sales reached an all-time monthly high of 7.498 million ounces.
Silver futures have gained 14 percent to $20.778 an ounce from $18.17 on June 28, when the metal touched the lowest since Aug. 24, 2010. The mint plans to issue its last weekly allocation of 2013 coins on Dec. 9. Sales of bars, jewelry and coins surged from Australia to China and India as silver and gold futures slumped into bear markets in April.
“The retail demand has remained very strong, especially for silver,” Scott Carter, the chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based Lear Capital, a precious-metal dealer, said in a telephone interview. “The lower prices and uncertainty because of the government shutdown made silver very attractive” for coin buyers, he said.
The halt in sales next month may push up the premium that wholesale dealers charge to customers, Frank McGhee, the head dealer at Integrated Brokerage Services LLC in Chicago, said in a telephone interview.
The premium, around 18 percent last month, “could jump again as the demand remains buoyant and supplies will shrink,” he said.
The premium surged to 25 percent in April, the highest since 2008, according to Richard Nachbar, a coin dealer based in Williamsville, New York.
The U.S. Mint suspended sales of silver coins for more than a week in January because of a lack of inventory.
Silver futures on the Comex in New York have slumped 31 percent this year, heading for the biggest drop since 1981.
Imports by China, the world’s second-biggest silver user, advanced each month from May to August. The U.S. is the top consumer of the metal.
Sales of gold coins may rise to a record this year if demand continues at the current pace, Richard Peterson, the acting director of the mint, said in June.
This year, gold futures have dropped 24 percent, heading for the first annual drop since 2000. Some investors lost faith in precious metals as a store of value amid a U.S. equity rally and low inflation.
Silver reached a 31-year high of $49.845 on April 25, 2011, and gold rose to a record $1,923.70 an ounce on Sept. 6, 2011.
Tuesday, gold dropped 0.8 percent to $1,271.20 on the Comex.
© Copyright 2023 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.