American Eagle silver coin sales shine at US Mint

New York (Nov 14)    Sales of American Eagle silver coins by the US Mint since the start of the year surpassed the annual record as the futures market rallied from the lowest in 34 months.

Sales reached almost 40.2 million ounces, the mint said on Wednesday in an e-mail.

Authorised purchasers bought the full weekly allocation of 500,000 coins, boosting the total this year above the previous ..

"Strong demand for silver coins should be a supporting factor for the price," said Daniel Briesemann, an analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt. Physical demand has limited the price drop in 2013, during which silver has retreated 31%, he said. Surging sales of bars, jewelry and coins helped to support gold and silver prices this year after they  plunged into a bear market in April as some investors lost faith in precious metals as a store of value, amid a US equity rally and concern that Federal Reserve will taper its stimulus program. Sales of gold coins may ri-se to a record this year, Richard Peterson, the acting director of the mint, said in June.

Silver futures on the Comex in New York are heading for the biggest drop since 1981. Gold futures have dropped 24 percent, heading for the first annual decline since 2000. "The retail demand has remained very strong especially for silver," Scott Carter, the chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based Lear Capital, a precious-metals dealer, said in a telephone interview. "The lower prices and uncertainty because of the government shutdown made silver very attractive" for coin buyers.

Silver futures advanced 14% to $20.765 an ounce from $18.17 on June 28, when the metal touched the lowest since August 24, 2010. Futures trading volumes today were 72% higher than the average for the past 100 days at this time, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Imports by China, the world's second-biggest silver user, advanced each month from May to August. The US is the top consumer of the metal. In January, the mint's sales reached an all-time monthly high of 7.498 million ounces.