August 13, 2022

US Mint Gold and Silver Bullion Sales Flat as Prices Hit New Highs

Currently, the United States Mint has three bullion products available to its network of authorized purchasers. The American Silver Eagle is struck in one ounce of .999 fine silver. The American Gold Eagle is struck in 22 karat gold and comes in one ounce, half ounce, quarter ounce, and tenth ounce bullion weights. The American Gold Buffalo is struck in 24 karat gold and available in one ounce size only.

Authorized purchasers may order bullion coins from the US Mint in bulk quantities based on the price of the previous metals plus a fixed (silver) or percentage (gold) markup. In the latest week, bullion sales at the US Mint were little changed from recent levels, even as the price of gold hit a fresh all time high and the price of silver trades at a 31-year high, approaching its all time high price.

US Mint Bullion Coin Program Sales 4/20/2011 (ounces)

Prior Week Month to Date Year to Date
American Silver Eagle 727,000 2,101,000 13,803,000
American Gold Eagle 13,500 58,500 358,000
America the Beautiful Silver 0 0 0
American Platinum Eagle 0 0 0
American Gold Buffalo 5,000 12,500 50,500

The US Mint sold 727,000 ounces worth of Silver Eagles during the period. For several weeks running, sales have stayed around this same basic level, which is a more reflection of the US Mint’s production capacity than market demand. Since the start of sales for the 2011 Silver Eagles, the US Mint has imposed its rationing program, allocating available supplies amongst the authorized purchasers.

Gold bullion sales were 18,500 ounces in the past week, up slightly from the 17,500 ounces sold in the prior period. Sales consisted of 13,500 ounces of Gold Eagles and 5,000 ounces of Gold Buffalo coins.

Next week, the US Mint will expand their bullion offerings when the first two designs of the 2011 America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins go on sale. Production has been indicated at 126,500 units for each design, representing 1,265,000 troy ounces of silver since each coin has a weight of 5 ounces.

iShares Silver Trust and SPDR Gold Trust Holdings Increase As Worries Over Paper Money Grow

Both the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) and the SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) saw holdings jump on the week as precious metal prices continued to climb.

The holding of the SLV increased by a substantial 213.98 tonnes over the past week after posting a decline of 192.74 tonnes in the previous week.  The all time record holdings of the SLV was reached on April 11, 2011, at 11,242.89 tonnes.

Strong investment and fundamental demand for silver continued to push silver prices higher with the London PM Fix Price for silver closing yesterday at $44.79, up from $40.22 a week ago.

While some analysts worry about the “inflation” in silver prices, the world’s most successful investor is worried about dollar inflation.  Warren Buffet – “We’re following policies that will lead to a lot of inflation down the road unless changes are made”.  The U.S. can’t “run the kind of deficits we’re running and other policies…without it being enormously inflationary”.

The SLV currently holds 359.6 million ounces of silver bullion valued at $16.1 billion.  The SLV has seen seen an astonishing increase in the value of its holdings.  At the Trust’s inception in April 2006, silver holdings of 653.17 tonnes were valued at $263.5 million.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

20-April-2011 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,230.25 +17.29 -50.47
SLV 11,183.69 +213.98 +262.12

Gold holdings of the SPDR Gold Shares Trust increased on the week by 17.29 tonnes to a total of 1,230.25 tonnes, after an increase of 7.49 tonnes in the previous week.  The GLD now holds a total of 39.6 million ounces of gold valued at $59.4 billion.

Gold continued to gain this past week and, as measured by the London PM Fix Price, closed yesterday at an all time high of $1,501.00.  Gold has gained $43.50 over the past week and since the beginning of the month is up $83 per ounce or 5.8%.

The price gains in gold continue to confound the numerous skeptics of the golden metal who can’t understand why gold is going up in the absence of high rates of inflation.  Perhaps the skeptics should pay attention to the increasingly vocal concerns by governments holding large reserves of U.S. dollars and whose economies are being harmed by the flood of rapidly depreciating U.S. dollars.

COLLAPSING US DOLLAR - COURTESY STOCKCHARTS.COM

Nyet to diplomacy. In extremely blunt remarks, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, commenting after the S&P downgrade on the U.S. debt outlook, said:  “Look at their (the U.S.) trade balance, their debt and budget.  They turn on the printing presses and flood the entire dollar zone – in other words, the whole world, with government bonds.  There is no way we will act this way anytime soon.  We don’t have the luxury of such hooliganism”.   Nor is Mr. Putin simply talking tough – the Russian government is also acting to protect its financial interests by reducing their holdings of U.S. treasury debt.  Russia, the world’s third largest holder of U.S. debt has been greatly reducing its dollar holdings this year.

China, the world’s largest holder of U.S. dollars totaling a massive $3 trillion, has been expressing its frustrations and concerns with U.S. monetary policy for years.  A plunging US dollar reduces the value of US debt held by China.  To offset the losses from holdings US paper assets, China has been reducing its holdings of U.S. dollars and buying physical assets worldwide.  China also took major steps this week to gradually implement full convertibility of the yuan in world markets which would allow it to hold fewer US dollars.

Governments worldwide are taking major steps to reduce loss exposure from holding US dollars that can be printed in the trillions by the U.S. Federal Reserve.  In another sign of disgust towards U.S. fiscal and monetary policies,  Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa recently agreed to use their own currencies among themselves instead of the U.S. dollar.

The result of ultra loose U.S. monetary policies, huge budget deficits and money printing by the Federal Reserve have all contributed to the flight to wealth preservation as reflected by a collapsing US dollar and skyrocketing precious metals prices.

Sales of US Mint Gold Bullion Coins Slower on the Week

Gold Eagle Sales Slower, Silver Eagles Little Changed

The number of ounces of gold sold through the US Mint’s bullion programs was slower the past week. Meanwhile, sales of silver bullion rose slightly, although they remain within the same basic range seen over the past several weeks.

The US Mint sold 17,500 troy ounces of gold bullion for the weekly period ending April 13, 2011. This consisted of 13,000 ounces of American Gold Eagles and 4,500 ounces of American Gold Buffalo coins. All gold bullion coins sold during the week were one ounce coins, with no fractional weight coins sold.

This sales level is down from the 32,000 ounces sold in the previous week. The drop may be the impact of seasonality, as precious metals sales tend to be slower around the US individual income tax filing deadline. For the year to date, gold bullion sales have reached 390,000 ounces.

US Mint Bullion Coin Program Sales 4/13/2011 (ounces)

Prior Week Month to Date Year to Date
American Silver Eagle 715,500 1,374,000 13,803,000
American Gold Eagle 13,000 45,000 344,500
America the Beautiful Silver 0 0 0
American Platinum Eagle 0 0 0
American Gold Buffalo 4,500 7,500 45,500

Silver bullion sales for the week reached 715,500 ounces, consisting entirely of the one ounce American Silver Eagle coins. As mentioned in previous reports, these bullion coins continue to be subject to the US Mint’s allocation program. This serves to ration the available supply of coins amongst the authorized purchasers. As such, the weekly sales levels are an indication of the number of coins the US Mint was able to produce and make available, as opposed to the level market demand.

The US Mint has plans to expand the production of Silver Eagles by utilizing the facility at San Francisco, which may be able to strike a few hundred thousand additional coins per week. Test strikes have reportedly begun, and full scale production is expected to begin some time next month. Hopefully, this will alleviate some of the excess demand for silver bullion coins, although it doesn’t seem like it will solve the problem completely.

iShares Silver Trust Holdings Decline

The iShares Silver Trust (SLV) saw silver holdings slump on the week while holdings of the SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) increased.

SLV holdings dropped by 192.74 tonnes on the week after adding 22.93 tonnes in the previous week.  Total holdings of the SLV amount to 10,969.71 tonnes or 352.7 million ounces of silver valued at $14.2 billion.  There is not always a direct correlation between the movement in silver prices and the amount of silver held by the trust.  For example, the total silver holdings of the SLV have increased by only .4% since the start of the year, while silver prices have increased by 32% over the same period.

There is a direct correlation between the price of the SLV and the price of silver.  The iShares Silver Trust was structured to track the price movement in silver bullion and it has achieved that result.  Since the inception of the SLV in April 2006, the annualized total return of the SLV has been 25.17% compared to an annualized total return for silver of 25.79%, the difference being primarily attributable to sponsor fees of .5% a year.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

13-April-2011 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,212.96 +7.49 -67.76
SLV 10,969.71 -192.74 +48.14

The SLV has experienced a huge long term increase in silver holdings based on investor demand.  Since the inception of the trust in April 2006, total holdings of the SLV have exploded by almost 1,600% from 653.17 tonnes to the current total of 10,969.71 tonnes.

Silver experienced price volatility during the past week but ended up $.59 per ounce at Wednesday’s close from the prior week.  Earlier in the week, silver saw a brief pullback from its highs as investors took profits in the commodity sector.  In addition, the silver market was spooked by word of an investor taking a large bearish options position in the May SLV put contracts.

SLV - COURTESY YAHOO FINANCE

Holdings of the GLD increased by 7.49 tonnes on the week.  The GLD currently holds 1,212.96 tonnes or 39.0 million ounces of gold valued at $56.8 billion.  As measured by the London PM Fix Price, gold declined by a modest $4 per ounce from its April 6th closing price.

GFMS,  a prestigious metals consulting firm based in London,  issued a bullish forecast for gold prices during 2011.  Barring a major rise in interest rates or a strong rally in the US dollar, GFMS is predicting that gold will reach $1,600 per ounce by the end of the year.  GFMS based its bullish forecast on very easy monetary policies, surging rates of inflation in Asian economies and continuing investment demand for gold.

US Mint Gold Bullion Coin Sales Shift Back to American Eagles

In the past week, the level of gold bullion sales at the United States Mint rose to a three week high at 35,000 ounces. The level of silver bullion sales remained little changed from recent weeks at 658,500 ounces, as coins continue to be subject to the US Mint’s allocation program.

Buyers shifted their focus back to the American Gold Eagles, which accounted for 32,000 ounces worth of sales. In previous weeks, a larger portion of sales had taken place for the recently released 2011 Gold Buffalo. These one ounce 24 karat gold coins were made available to authorized purchasers starting on March 14. Prior to that date, the coins had last been available from the Mint on September 27, 2010.

US Mint Bullion Coin Program Sales 4/6/2011 (ounces)

Prior Week Month to Date Year to Date
American Silver Eagle 658,500 658,500 13,087,500
American Gold Eagle 32,000 32,000 331,500
America the Beautiful Silver 0 0 0
American Platinum Eagle 0 0 0
American Gold Buffalo 3,000 3,000 41,000

The US Mint sold 658,000 ounces of silver bullion in the form of one ounce American Silver Eagles. Since the 2011-dated versions of the coins were first released, the coins have been subject to the Mint’s allocation program. This program serves to ration the available supplies amongst the eleven authorized purchasers. While the rationing is taking place, the level of silver bullion sales represents the number of coins the US Mint has made available, rather than the demand of the market place.

At a House subcommittee hearing on the US Mint’s bullion coin programs held earlier today, one of the witnesses estimated that the US Mint loses about a third of potential bullion sales because they cannot meet full demand.

iShares Silver Trust Holdings Reach Record High As Gold and Silver Hit New Highs

Silver holdings of the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) jumped to another new record high this week while holdings of the SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) dropped slightly.

The SLV holdings increased by 22.93 tonnes to surpass last week’s record high.  Holdings of the SLV now total 11,162.45 tonnes or 358.9 million ounces of silver valued at $14.2 billion.  Since silver began its nonstop advance in late January, holdings of the SLV have increased by a substantial 757.28 tonnes.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

6-April-2011 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,205.47 -6.37 -75.25
SLV 11,162.45 +22.93 +240.88

The London Fix Price for silver increased by $2.10 (5.6%) over the past week, closing today just below $40 at $39.63.  The price of silver has now reached levels last seen 31 years ago in 1980.  Patient silver investors who took the opportunity to increase holdings when the metal was below $10 per ounce are now enjoying the profit of patience.

The astonishing rally in silver prices since late last August has resulted in a gain of 114% for the SLV.  Profits from owning the ProShares Ultra Silver ETF (which does not hold physical silver) have been even more dramatic for silver bulls with a gain of over 400% since last August.

Despite the large price gains in silver since late January, we have not yet witnessed a large volume price spike as was seen in early November 2010 which lead to a 3 month price consolidation.  The next logical resistance level for silver would be on its approach to $50.  Besides the psychological resistance of round numbers, the all time high of silver is $48.70 reached in January 1980.

SLV - COURTESY STOCKCHARTS.COM

Holdings of the GLD declined by 6.37 tonnes on the week, bringing the decline in gold bullion holdings to 75.25 tonnes since the beginning of the year.  The all time record holdings of the GLD reached 1,320.47 tonnes on June 29, 2010.  The SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) now holds a total of 38.8 million ounces of gold valued at $56.6 billion.

The price of gold, as measured by the closing London PM Fix Price hit an all time high today of $1,461.50 and has now broken through resistance at the $1,450 level.  Many analysts are now targeting $1,500 as their next price objective.  Fundamentals favoring the gold market continue to be strong, especially as the U.S. continues inexorably towards a debt crisis at some point in the future (see Gold and Silver Soar As Budget Fiasco Sends Wrong Message to U.S. Creditors).

US Mint Gold and Silver Bullion Coin Sales

The weekly sales levels for the United States Mint’s gold and silver bullion coins were little changed from the levels of the previous period. Across the available options for gold, sales reached 23,000 ounces. Meanwhile total sales of 697,500 ounces of silver bullion were recorded.

The American Silver Eagle bullion coins feature the obverse design from the classic Walking Liberty Half Dollar. These coins were designed by Adolph A. Weinman and issued for circulation from 1916 to 1947. The reverse design features a heraldic eagle designed by John Mercanti specifically for the series. Each coin is struck in .999 fine silver and contains one troy ounce of silver.

Under current law, the US Mint is required to issue the coins “in quantities and qualities that the Secretary determines are sufficient to meet public demand.” Currently, the bullion version of the coins are subject to rationing, as demand exceeds the available supplies. Recent reports indicate that the US Mint will start limited production at the San Francisco Mint to supplement the production at the West Point Mint.

US Mint Bullion Coin Program Sales 3/30/2011 (ounces)

Prior Week Month to Date Year to Date
American Silver Eagle 697,500 2,069,500 12,429,000
American Gold Eagle 17,000 56,500 299,500
America the Beautiful Silver 0 0 0
American Platinum Eagle 0 0 0
American Gold Buffalo 6,000 38,000 38,000

The American Gold Eagle bullion coins feature the obverse design of the Saint Gaudens Double Eagle struck for circulation from 1907 to 1933. The reverse design features an image of a family of eagles designed by Miley Busiek. Coins are struck in 22 karat (.9167 fine) gold and are available in sizes of 1, 1/2, 1/4, and 1/10 troy ounces. These gold bullion coins are not currently subject to rationing.

American Gold Buffalo coins feature the obverse and revers design of the Buffalo Nickel, issued for circulation from 1913 to 1938. These gold bullion coins are struck in 24 karat (.9999 fineness) and come only in one troy ounce size. The US Mint began sales of the 2011-dated versions of the bullion coins on March 14, 2011.

iShares Silver Trust Holdings Hit All Time High

The holdings of the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) soared to an all time high this week, while the holdings of the SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) declined slightly.

The SLV saw holdings increased by 179.13 tonnes from the previous week to an all time high of 11,139.52 tonnes of silver.  The previous record high holdings of the SLV was on March 10 at 10,974.06 tonnes.

The holdings of the SLV have increased significantly as the price of silver moved up strongly from the correction low of late January.   Holdings of the SLV have increased by 217.95 tonnes since the beginning of the year and by a massive 734.35 tonnes since February 1st.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

30-March-11 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,211.84 -3.03 -68.88
SLV 11,139.52 +179.13 +217.95

The SLV has gained over 38% since the January lows to close today at $36.53.  The total net assets of the SLV now total $13.4 billion, an astonishing 5,095%  increase from $263.5 million at the Trust’s inception in April 2006.

SLV - COURTESY YAHOO FINANCE

Gold holdings in the GLD were down slightly by 3.03 tonnes as the price of gold continues to consolidate in the low $1400 range.  The GLD has seen a year to date decline of 68.88 tonnes since the first of the year and a decline of 108.63 tonnes from all time high holdings on June 29, 2010.

The value of the gold held by the GLD totals $55.5 billion.  By comparison the market cap of Barrick Gold Corp, the world’s largest gold producers, is $51.5 billion.

Gold has had strong seasonal price trends over the last decade with strong rallies occurring after July into the end of the year.  Based on this tendency, gold may continue to consolidate over the short term before entering its next phase up.  Gold was up 30% in 2010 – a similar move in 2011 would bring gold’s price into the $1,850 range.

The GLD ended up $.46 on the day to close at $138.67, slightly below its 52 week high of $141.28.

US Mint Gold Bullion Coin Sales Slower

The United States Mint currently has three gold and silver bullion coins available to its network of authorized purchasers. This includes the one ounce American Silver Eagle; the 22 karat American Gold Eagle available in one ounce, half ounce, quarter ounce, and tenth ounce sizes, and the recently released 24 karat American Gold Buffalo coins.

The group of primary distributors is able to purchase the bullion coins directly from the US Mint in bulk quantities based on the market price of the precious metals plus an established mark up for each product type. The coins are then resold to other bullion dealers, coin dealers, and the broader public. The sales levels for US Mint bullion coins can be an indicator of the demand for physical precious metals.

For the weekly period ending March 23, 2011, the US Mint sold a total of 24,500 ounces of gold bullion coins, down from the 45,500 ounces sold in the previous week. The higher numbers in the previous week were in part driven by the release of the 2011 Gold Buffalo, although initial sales levels were not as strong as experienced in 2009 and 2010.

For all of 2010, the US Mint had sold 1,429,500 ounces of gold bullion across all product options. About twelve weeks into the current year, gold bullion sales have reached 314,500 ounces. Assuming the same pace of sales continues for the rest of the year, gold bullion sales would be 1,362,833.

US Mint Bullion Coin Program Sales 3/23/2011 (ounces)

Prior Week Month to Date Year to Date
American Silver Eagle 652,500 2,069,500 11,731,500
American Gold Eagle 14,000 56,500 282,500
America the Beautiful Silver 0 0 0
American Platinum Eagle 0 0 0
American Gold Buffalo 10,500 32,000 32,000

The US Mint sold 652,500 ounces worth of silver bullion coins. The Silver Eagles are currently subject to allocation, meaning that the supplies are rationed amongst the primary distributors based on the available supplies. The allocation program has been in place for all of 2011.

Year to date silver bullion sales have reached 11,731,500. If the rate of sales remains constant for the rest of the year, sales would exceed 50 million ounces. Last year, the US Mint sold a record 34.6 million ounces worth of American Silver Eagles.

iShares Silver Trust Holdings Continue Higher, as SPDR Gold Shares Trust Holdings Decline

The holdings of the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) increased on the week while holdings of the SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) declined slightly.

Holdings in the SLV increased by 15.18 tonnes from the previous week.  Since March 1st, the Silver Trust has seen a net increase in holdings of 266.71 tonnes and a year to date increase of 38.82 tonnes.  The SLV now holds 352.4 million ounces of silver valued at $12.9 billion.

Silver hit a 31 year price high today, continuing a strong rally that began in late January.  In recent trading, silver was $37.34 per ounce.

At the inception of the iShares Silver Trust in April 2006, the SLV held 653.17 tonnes of silver valued at $263.5 million.  The SLV has been extremely popular with investors as the price of silver has steadily increased since 2006.  In addition, the establishment of the SLV has attracted many investors who would otherwise be disinclined to own silver considering the inconvenience and costs of taking physical delivery.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

23-March-11 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,214.87 -2.43 -65.85
SLV 10,960.39 +15.18 +38.82

The price of the SLV hit a new all time high yesterday closing at $36.47, up $.93 on the day.  The move upward continued today in early trading, before a pull back erased the day’s gains. The SLV has gained over $10 since late January providing silver investors with a solid 38% gain.  Since the inception of the Silver Trust in 2006, the SLV has almost tripled.

Holdings of the SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) declined modestly on the week by 2.43 tonnes.  The GLD has seen a year to date decline in its holdings of 65.85 tonnes.  The GLD currently holds 39.1 million ounces of gold valued at $56.2 billion.