U.S. Mint Sales of Gold Coins at Three-Year High on Price

Sales of gold coins by the U.S. Mint are heading for the highest level since December 2009 after prices in New York had the worst two-day slump in three decades.

As of yesterday, sales totaled 196,500 ounces, up from 62,000 ounces in March, data on the mint’s website show. The amount for all of December 2009 was 231,500 ounces.

Consumers from the U.S. to Australia joined shoppers from China and India to buy jewelry, coins and bars after futures slumped 13 percent in two days through April 15. Sales by the Perth Mint in Australia doubled and retail purchases across China tripled, the China Gold Association said. The U.S. Mint said April 23 it suspended sales of coins weighing a 10th of an ounce after demand more than doubled from a year earlier.

“The crash in prices has provoked huge new interest in physical bullion,” Miguel Perez-Santalla, a vice president at New York-based BullionVault, said in a phone interview. “Our business last week was 250 percent more than a week before.”

Gold futures on the Comex in New York climbed as much as 1.7 percent to $1,448.50 an ounce today, the highest level since April 15, and traded recently at $1,444.50. Prices are down 25 percent from the record $1,923.70 in September 2011.

The U.S. Mint sells 22-karat American Eagles of 1 ounce for $1,760 each on its website. A half-ounce coin costs $895, a quarter-ounce coin is $460 and one weighing a 10th of an ounce is $195. The cost for a 1-ounce coin can vary weekly, depending on the average price at the London “fixing,” used by some mining companies to sell output, the mint said on its website.

“The 1-ounce gold bullion coins are the most popular,” Michael White, a Mint spokesman, said yesterday.

Maple Leaf

Demand continues to be very strong for the Maple Leaf coins from the Canadian Mint, Chris Carkner, a managing director at the mint, said in an e-mailed response to questions from Bloomberg. “Demand has increased from all our markets, including North America, Europe and Asia,” he said.

The Perth Mint has seen an “enormous number of people” buying gold, Treasurer Nigel Moffatt said on Bloomberg Television April 19. There was interest from India, Thailand and particularly from China, he said.

UBS AG said on April 23 that physical-gold flows to India, the world’s biggest buyer, approached the highest since 2008, while Standard Chartered Plc said shipments last week were 20 percent above the previous record.

Volumes of gold products sold jumped 150 percent in Hong Kong and Macau during the April 13 weekend compared with the weekend before, Dennis Lau, director of sales operations at Chow Sang Sang Holdings International Ltd. (116), said last week. Retail sales tripled across China on April 15-16, the China Gold Association reported.

Japanese consumers are poised to become net buyers of gold for the first time in eight years as the yen’s decline and looming inflation drive them to seek refuge in bullion, according to Standard Bank Plc. 

Source: Bloomberg Email