Tanaka Plans Silver Saving Account for Japan as Prices Rebound

TOKYO-JAPAN (Aug 22)  Tanaka Kikinzoku Kogyo K.K., Japan’s biggest gold retailer, will add silver to its online trading products for individual investors as prices trade near a three-month high.

Tanaka will offer accounts that require saving a minimum of 3,000 yen ($31) a month to trade silver, said Naoto Mizuki, a marketing executive at parent Tanaka Holdings Co. Clients will be able to sell the metal via the Internet or take physical delivery, Mizuki said yesterday. Applications will open Sept. 2 and trading will begin in November.

Silver, about half of which is consumed by industry to make everything from solar panels to batteries, rebounded 25 percent since reaching the lowest in almost three years in June as improving economic climate boosted demand outlook. The metal entered a bear market in April as investors lost faith in precious metals as a store of value and amid concern the Federal Reserve would taper stimulus.

“Silver is cheaper than gold and platinum and it can be bought with less money,” said Kate Harada, general manager at Tanaka Kikinzoku’s precious metals team. “Individual investors have been searching for a tool to hedge their yen-based assets.”

Silver lost 25 percent this year, making it the worst performer after corn in Standard & Poor’s GSCI Index of 24 commodities. Metal for immediate delivery was little changed at $22.8595 an ounce at 12 p.m. in Tokyo. The yen has depreciated 12 percent this year against the dollar as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe boosted monetary stimulus to spur growth.

Japan may add the most solar capacity in the world this year, according to estimates by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Solar panels accounted for 6.9 percent of the industrial demand for silver in 2011, according to CPM Group Inc.

Tanaka introduced similar products for gold in 1980 and for platinum in 1985.