US Mint Sales of Gold Coins Hit 3-Year High

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

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

The mint said on April 23 it suspended sales of coins weighing a 10th of an ounce after demand more than doubled in 2013 from a year earlier. Shoppers from India to China and Japan joined consumers in the U.S. and Australia in the rush to buy jewelry and coins following a price decline that sent bullion into a bear market after 12 years of gains.

“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 telephone interview. “Our business last week was 250 percent more than a week before.”

The mint sells 22-karat American Eagles of 1 ounce, half an ounce, a quarter and a tenth of an ounce.

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

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.

India, Japan

UBS AG said on Tuesday 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., 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.

Gold futures on the Comex in New York climbed 1.1 percent to settle at $1,423.70 an ounce Wednesday. Prices have plunged 26 percent from the record $1,923.70 in September 2011.


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