October 2, 2022

US Mint Gold Bullion Sales Rise with Gold Buffalo Launch

The number of ounces worth of gold bullion coins sold by the United States Mint rose in the latest week, bolstered by the launch of the 2011 Gold Buffalo coins. Silver bullion sales showed a slight increase, as the year to date total for American Silver Eagles moved above 11 million.

The United States Mint sells bullion products through a network of authorized purchasers. This small group of primary distributors may buy the coins directly in bulk quantities, based on the market price of the metals plus a mark up. The coins are then resold to other dealers and the public for broader distribution.

At the current time, the available products include one ounce Silver Eagles; one ounce, half ounce, quarter ounce, and tenth ounce Gold Eagles, and one ounce Gold Buffaloes. The 5 ounce America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins are expected to be released in late April. The status of the Platinum Eagle coins remains uncertain.

US Mint Bullion Coin Program Sales 3/16/2011 (ounces)

Prior Week Month to Date Year to Date
American Silver Eagle 748,500 1,417,000 11,079,000
American Gold Eagle 24,000 42,500 268,500
America the Beautiful Silver 0 0 0
American Platinum Eagle 0 0 0
American Gold Buffalo 21,500 0 21,500

Total ounces of gold sold for the week ending March 16, 2011 was 45,500. This consisted of 24,000 ounces of American Gold Eagles and 21,500 ounces of the newly released 2011 Gold Buffalo coins. The latter are only available in one ounce size and are struck in 24 karat gold.

In the past week, the US Mint recorded sales of 748,500 ounces of American Silver Eagles. This is up from the sales of 668,500 reported for the previous period. Sales levels for silver bullion continue to be restrained as the US Mint imposes its allocation program, which rations the available supply amongst the authorized purchasers.

iShares Silver Trust Holdings Decline, SPDR Gold Shares Trust Holdings Unchanged

Holdings of silver in the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) declined slightly on the week, while holdings in the SPDR  Gold Shares Trust (GLD) remained unchanged.

Silver holdings declined by a modest 28.85 tonnes since last week, after seeing increases of 209.54 tonnes and 189.29 tonnes in the previous two weeks.  The year to date holdings in the SLV have increased by 23.64 tonnes.  The value of silver held is valued now $12.22 billion based on holdings of 351.9 million ounces of silver.

Despite collapsing stock markets, a devastating earthquake in Japan, increased turmoil in the Middle East and a wild escalation of money printing by the Bank of Japan, gold and silver moved lower over the past week calling into question the safe haven status of precious metals.

After a huge run up in the price of silver over the past year, it is not unusual to see a correction in prices.  Since consolidating in January, silver prices had run up almost 40% over the past two months from $26 to $36 per ounce.  Aside from normal profit taking after such a huge increase, some of the selling pressure in silver may be due to margin calls.  Investors who have leveraged positions in the market may be liquidating positions to reduce overall exposure until markets stabilize.

Another factor that has ironically made the precious metals markets more volatile is the manner in which the SLV and GLD are structured.   Fast rising prices of gold and silver attract speculators who do not have a long term commitment.  The SLV and GLD allow effective ownership of the metals without the cost and inconvenience of taking physical positions.  Although speculative purchases help to push prices up, the opposite will occur when the fast money crowd decides to take profits at the first sign of price weakness.  Since last week, the price of silver based on the London Fix price, has declined by $1.44 or 4%.

SLV - courtesy yahoo finance

Asian stock futures are down virtually across the board as the situation in Japan deteriorates and spot gold and silver prices are also showing declines.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

16-March-11 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,217.30 +0.00 -63.42
SLV 10,945.21 -28.85 +23.64

Holdings in the SPDR  Gold Shares Trust (GLD) remained unchanged from the prior week at 1,217.30 tonnes with a year to date decline of 63.42 tonnes. The GLD currently holds 39.14 million ounces of gold valued at $54.86 billion.

Gold has been unable to mount a strong rally since hitting an all time intraday price of $1,440 in early March.  It may be just a question of time before gold resumes rallying based on continued weakness in the U.S. dollar and virtually unlimited money printing operations by central banks worldwide.  The supply of currencies can be increased with virtually no limit as sovereign governments bump up against the limits of debt expansion.  The supply of gold and silver is limited and will always hold intrinsic value without counter party risk.  The choice will become apparent to more investors as economic conditions continue to deteriorate.

Silver Eagle Sales Slower as US Mint Rations Supplies

Sales of the United States Mint’s American Silver Eagle bullion coins were slower in the latest week. However, the slow down seems to be the result of the allocation program currently in place, as opposed to a reduction in demand. Sales for Gold Eagle bullion coins dropped to the lowest weekly total for the year to date.

For the weekly period ending March 9, the US Mint recorded sales of 668,500 of the one ounce Silver Eagles. This compares to 1,509,000 coins sold in the previous week.

Since the start of sales for the 2011-dated coins, the US Mint has carried out sales under their standard allocation program. Rather than accepting unrestricted orders, available supplies of silver bullion coins are rationed amongst the authorized purchasers. As such, sales figures reflect the number of coins that the US Mint is able to produce and make available, as opposed to the level of demand from the market.

There has been anecdotal evidence from bullion dealers indicating demand in excess of the available supplies. This reduced availability has caused premium levels for Silver Eagles to expand at the retail level.

Other world mints have indicated that they have been encountering problems obtaining the silver needed to produce coins and other bullion products. The US Mint has not provided any specific explanations.

US Mint Bullion Coin Program Sales 3/9/2011 (ounces)

Prior Week Month to Date Year to Date
American Silver Eagle 668,500 668,500 10,330,500
American Gold Eagle 12,500 18,500 232,000
America the Beautiful Silver 0 0 0
American Platinum Eagle 0 0 0
American Gold Buffalo 0 0 0

Sales of the bullion Gold Eagles were only 12,500 in the latest week compared to a previous weekly total of 37,000 coins. The demand for physical gold has not been as intense as the demand for silver. Since the start of sales for the 2011-dated coins on January 3, 2011, the US Mint has not used the allocation program.

iShares Silver Trust Holdings Continue to Skyrocket

Silver holdings in the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) continued to skyrocket, while holdings of gold in the SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) experienced a modest increase.

The iShares Silver Trust (SLV) holdings increased by 209.54 tonnes in the latest week.  The prior two weeks have seen increases of 189.29 tonnes and 164 tonnes.  Total holdings of the SLV are now 52.49 tonnes higher than at the beginning of the year.  The SLV holds 352.8 million ounces of silver valued at $12.76 billion.

The holdings of silver in the iShares Silver Trust have now exceeded peak holdings reached at the beginning of the year.  Silver has moved relentlessly higher in price since last August.  After a brief price correction in January which brought silver down to the $26 level, silver prices have exploded to more than $36 per ounce, a gain of 38% in less than two months.

Given the huge run up in the price of silver, it is not surprising to see holdings of the SLV increase dramatically.  The SLV is a proxy for investors who chose to invest in silver without the cost and inconvenience of holding physical silver.  Purchasing the SLV allows an investor to take an immediate position in silver and without the markups associated with physically purchasing bars or coins.

The annual expense ratio of the SLV is only 0.5% compared to common markups of 5% to 10% when purchasing physical bullion or coins from a dealer.  The SLV has been wildly popular with investors since it was launched and has provided huge returns to patient investors.   The SLV has risen from below $10 in October 2008 to its closing price today of $35.27 for a gain of over 250%.  A purchase of a thousand shares of the SLV at the low of $9.13 in October 2008 would have resulted in profits of $26,140.

SLV - Yahoo Finance

It has been over 30 years since silver hit its all time high price of $48.70 in January 1980.  Huge investment and industrial demand as well as physical shortages of silver are all factors that could easily push silver to a new all time high.  Silver has been making up for lost time and has dramatically outperformed the price movement in gold.  A reversion to the centuries old gold silver ratio could easily push silver prices towards the $100 per ounce level.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

9-March-11 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,217.30 +6.34 -63.42
SLV 10,974.06 +209.54 +52.49

Holdings in the SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) saw a jump in holdings of nearly 7 tonnes on Monday of this week, which is the largest increase in daily holdings seen in the past two months.  The GLD increased holdings by over 6 tonnes for the week after modest declines in the previous two weeks.   Total GLD holdings are still lower than the beginning of the year by 63.42 tonnes.  The GLD currently holds 39.14 million ounces of gold valued at almost $56 billion.

Since its launch in November 2004 when gold was trading at $445 per ounce, the GLD has been an extremely profitable investment.  As the price of silver broke out and hit new highs, gold has still not decisively broken through its trading range in the low $1400’s.   Gold made a strong move up from $1150 last August and has been consolidating sideways since breaching the $1400 level.

US Mint Silver Eagle Bullion Coin Sales Jump

The pace of United States Mint gold and silver bullion coin sales picked up in the prior week. The US Mint currently has available one ounce American Silver Eagles in allocated quantities and unrestricted quantities of American Gold Eagles.

The latest available statistics show an increase of 1,509,500 ounces of silver bullion sales. In the previous two weeks, the US Mint had sold 908,000 and 833,500. Although sales show a big increase, it could be higher if not for the US Mint’s allocation program. Authorized purchasers are currently limited in the number of coins that they can order, which means sales are not an indication of the full demand for silver bullion.

American Gold Eagle sales increased by 37,000 ounces since the last report. This compares to sales of 28,000 and 31,500 in the prior two weekly periods. The increased demand comes as the price of gold recently reached a new all time high above $1,440 per ounce. For the past several years the rising price of gold has been accompanied by strong demand for physical gold.

US Mint Bullion Coin Program Sales 3/2/2011 (ounces)

Prior Week Month to Date Year to Date
American Silver Eagle 1,509,500 0 9,662,000
American Gold Eagle 37,000 6,000 232,000
America the Beautiful Silver 0 0 0
American Platinum Eagle 0 0 0
American Gold Buffalo 0 0 0

Year to date US Mint bullion coin sales have now reached 9,662,000 ounces of silver and 232,000 ounces of gold. Both figures represent an increase from the average pace of sales experienced in the prior year.

During 2010, the average monthly sales level for Silver Eagles was 2,888,541 ounces, while the average monthly sales of Gold Eagles was 101,708 ounces.

iShares Silver Trust Holdings Increase Sharply

The iShares Silver Trust (SLV) continued to add large amounts of silver to its holdings while the SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) experienced another small decline in holdings.

Holdings in the GLD declined by 7.28 tonnes compared to a decline of 5.77 tonnes in the previous week.  Total holdings have declined by 5.5% or 69.76 tonnes since the start of the year.  The GLD currently holds 1,210.96 tonnes or 38.93 million ounces of gold valued at $55.9 billion.

The price of the GLD has traded as low as $128 since last October after running up from approximately $110 from the start of 2010.   The GLD hit new highs yesterday at $140.55 before closing at $139.92 reflecting the new all time high in gold prices.  Gold settled at $1437.20 for March delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

GLD - COURTESY STOCKCHARTS.COM

The GLD is structured to allow investors a means of investing in gold without taking physical delivery and to buy or sell that interest by trading the GLD shares on a regulated stock exchange.  The GLD has been wildly successful since its start by allowing widespread beneficial ownership of gold bullion without the costs involved in physical delivery such as insurance and storage.  The GLD has facilitated gold ownership by both large and small investors by supplying liquidity to the market and ease of ownership.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

2-March-11 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,210.96 -7.28 -69.76
SLV 10,764.52 +189.29 -157.05

Holdings in the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) increased by 189.29 tonnes over the past week compared to an increase in the previous week of 164.0  tonnes.  The year to date decline of 157.05 tonnes represents a 1.4% drop in silver holdings since the beginning of the year.  The value of the SLV and GLD are structured to reflect the underlying price of gold and silver but an increase in precious metal prices may not necessarily result in greater gold or silver holdings by the Trusts.

The price of SLV hit an all time high yesterday as March silver prices reached a 31-year high of $34.93 per ounce.  As the credit worthiness of many sovereign nations continues to decline, investors continue to see gold and silver as a viable alternative to currencies as a store of value.

The all time high for silver was $48.70 reached in January 1980.

Since last August, silver has dramatically outperformed gold in price appreciation.  Silver has soared over 92% since last August while the price of gold has increased by only 22%.  This dramatic out performance of silver over gold has resulted in the gold silver ratio declining from a multi decade average of 60 to the current level of 41.  Some observers see the decline in the gold silver ratio as an omen for a price pullback in silver while others view it as a fundamental demand shift indicating further sustained price gains for silver.

SLV - COURTESY YAHOO FINANCE

US Mint Gold and Silver Eagle Bullion Coin Sales

Sales of the United States Mint’s gold and silver bullion coins remained on a relatively steady pace with recent weeks. Sales of 908,000 ounces worth of American Silver Eagle coins were recorded, along with 28,000 ounces worth of American Gold Eagles.

In the previous week, the Mint had recorded bullion sales of 833,500 ounces of silver and 31,500 ounces of gold.

The US Mint utilizes a network of authorized purchasers (AP’s) to distribute bullion products to the public. This small group of private sector businesses are allowed to purchase bullion coins from the Mint in bulk quantities, and in turn resell them to the public. The price charged to the APs is based on the market price of the metal plus a mark up.

The mark up for Silver Eagles is currently $2.00 per coin. The mark up for Gold Eagles varies based on the size of the coin. The premium levels are 3%, 5%, 7%, and 9%, for one ounce, one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce sized coins, respectively.

US Mint Bullion Coin Program Sales 2/23/2011 (ounces)

Prior Week Month to Date Year to Date
American Silver Eagle 908,000 2,638,500 8,152,500
American Gold Eagle 28,000 83,500 189,000
America the Beautiful Silver 0 0 0
American Platinum Eagle 0 0 0
American Gold Buffalo 0 0 0

For the year to date, the US Mint has sold 8,152,500 ounces of silver bullion and 189,000 ounces of gold bullion. All sales have taken place for the American Eagle coins. Later in the year, 24 karat Gold Buffalo bullion coins and 5 ounce America the Beautiful Silver Coins are expected to be made available.

Silver ETF Holdings Soar as Gold ETF Holdings Decline

The SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) holdings declined slightly on the week, while the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) increased its holdings by a substantial 164 metric tonnes

Holdings in the GLD declined by 5.77 tonnes compared to a decline of 2.43 tonnes in the previous week.  Total holdings have declined by 4.9% or 62.48 tonnes since the start of the year.  The GLD currently holds 1,218.24 tonnes or 39.17 million ounces of gold valued at $55.2 billion.

The price of the GLD has traded between $128 and $139 since last October after running up from approximately $110 from the start of 2010.   The GLD was originally launched in November 2004 when the price of gold was trading at $445 per ounce.

GLD - COURTESY STOCKCHARTS.COM

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

23-Feb-11 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,218.24 -5.77 -62.48
SLV 10,575.23 +164.00 -346.34

Silver holdings in the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) increased by 164 tonnes over the past week compared to an increase in the previous week of 41.01 tonnes.  The year to date decline of 346.34 tonnes represents a 3.2% drop in silver holdings since the beginning of the year.

The Trust is structured so that the value of the iShares will reflect the price of silver owned by the trust.  The price of an iShare should closely track the price of one ounce of silver, less the Trust’s expenses.  However, the price of the SLV will fluctuate during the day as traders buy and sell shares.  If there are many buyers purchasing SLV, the price can rise to a premium over the underlying value of silver as seen in the chart below comparing silver to the SLV.

The amount of silver held by the SLV will vary due to the mechanism by which shares are created or redeemed by the Trust via Authorized Participants.   Authorized Participants are typically large Wall Street Investment firms that will either deliver or take silver from the SLV as they arbitrage to take advantage of premiums or discounts of physical silver to the value of the SLV.  The GLD operates similarly to the SLV which is why an increase in the price of gold and the price of the GLD may not necessarily result in greater gold holdings by the GLD.

SILVER/SLV - COURTESY STOCKCHARTS.COM

The SLV’s closing price of $32.71 on February 23th is 9.2% above last weeks closing price on February 16th and reflects silvers large price increase over the past week as prices broke out to new highs.  Since 2010, the price of silver has more than doubled from the $16 range to the current price of $33.70.

Pace of US Mint Gold and Silver Bullion Sales Ahead of Last Year

In the past week, the United States Mint sold 833,500 ounces of silver bullion and 31,500 ounces of gold bullion. Available products included the American Silver Eagle in one ounce size and the American Gold Eagle in one ounce or three fractional sizes.

For the year to date, the US Mint has now sold 8,152,500 ounces of silver, which is running well ahead of the pace of sales from the previous year. During 2010, the US Mint had sold 5,642,500 ounces through the end of February. Annual sales eventually reached a record 34,662,500 ounces from Silver Eagles, with an additional 875,000 ounces from the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins.

Gold bullion sales for the year to date are now 189,000. Once again, this is running ahead of last year’s pace when the Mint sold 169,000 ounces through the end of February. By year end, sales had reached 1,220,500 ounces worth of Gold Eagles, plus 209,000 ounces from the 24 karat Gold Buffalo coins.

US Mint Bullion Coin Program Sales 2/16/2011 (ounces)

Prior Week Month to Date Year to Date
American Silver Eagle 833,500 1,730,500 8,152,500
American Gold Eagle 31,500 55,500 189,000
America the Beautiful Silver 0 0 0
American Platinum Eagle 0 0 0
American Gold Buffalo 0 0 0

This month the US Mint began sales of the fractional weight 2011-dated American Gold Eagles. Throughout January, only the one ounce size was available bearing this year’s date.

Fractional Gold Eagle sales for the month so far include 100,000 of the one-tenth ounce size coins, 16,000 of the one-quarter ounce coins, and 5,000 of the one-half ounce coins. In recent years, the one ounce size coins have accounted for the bulk of bullion sales.

Gold ETF Holdings Stable As Silver ETF Holdings Increase

The SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) holdings declined marginally on the week, while the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) increased its holdings by over 41 metric tonnes.   As both gold and silver prices consolidate in a tight price range, both the GLD and the SLV have experienced a decline in bullion holdings since the beginning of the year.

Holdings in the GLD declined by 2.43 tonnes compared to a decline of .71 tonnes in the previous week.  Total holdings have declined by 4.4% or 56.71 tonnes since the start of the new year.  The GLD currently holds 1,224.01 tonnes or 39.35 million ounces of gold valued at $53.9 billion.

The price of the GLD has traded between $128 and $139 since last October after running up from approximately $110 from the start of 2010.   The GLD was originally launched in November 2004 when the price of gold was trading at $445 per ounce.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)


16-Feb-11 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,224.01 -2.43 -56.71
SLV 10,411.23 41.01 -510.34

Silver holdings in the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) increased by 41.01 tonnes over the past week compared to a decline in the previous week of 38.38 tonnes.  The year to date decline of 551.35 tonnes represents a 5% drop in silver holdings.

There is no direct correlation between SLV holdings and the price of the SLV due to the mechanism by which shares are created or redeemed by the Trust via Authorized Participants.  The Trust is structured so that the value of the iShares reflects the price of silver owned by the trust.  The price of an iShare should closely track the price of one ounce of silver, less the Trust’s expenses.

The SLV’s closing price of $29.96 on February 16th is only slightly below the all time high of $30.40 reached at the beginning of the year.  Since 2010, the price of silver almost doubled from the $16 range to the current price of $30.67.