October 2, 2022

Weekly US Mint Gold and Silver Bullion Coin Sales

After the furious pace of sales experienced during January for the United States Mint’s American Silver Eagle and American Gold Eagle bullion coins, the current month is progressing at a more measured pace. For the week ending February 9, 2011, the US Mint recorded sales of 847,000 ounces worth of silver and 18,000 ounces worth of gold.

The US Mint offers several bullion coin options in order to provide investors with a convenient and cost effective method for physical precious metals investment. The programs include 22 karat gold coins in one ounce, one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce sizes; 24 karat gold coins in one ounce size; .999 fine silver coins in one ounce and five ounce sizes; and platinum coins in one ounce, one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce size.

For the year to date, the US Mint has only offered the one ounce Silver Eagle and 22 karat Gold Eagle bullion coins. The Gold Eagles are available in one ounce size bearing the 2011 date, with some remaining amounts of the fractional weight coins bearing the 2010 date. The remaining bullion coin options have not yet been released.

US Mint Bullion Coin Program Sales 2/9/2011 (ounces)

Prior Week Month to Date Year to Date
American Silver Eagle 847,000 897,000 7,319,000
American Gold Eagle 18,000 24,000 139,500
America the Beautiful Silver 0 0 0
American Platinum Eagle 0 0 0
American Gold Buffalo 0 0 0

Last year, the US Mint recorded sales of 34,662,500 ounces worth of American Silver Eagles and 1,220,500 ounces worth of American Gold Eagles. The amount of silver bullion sold represented an all time record.

GLD Gold Holdings Sixth Largest In The World, SLV Holdings Show Small Decline

The SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) and the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) both registered small declines over the past week as the price of gold and silver recovered some ground.

Holdings in the GLD declined by .71 tonnes compared to a decline of 2.43 tonnes in the previous week.  Total holdings have now declined by 4.2% or 54.28 tonnes since the start of the new year.  The GLD currently holds 1,226.44 tonnes or 39.4 million ounces of gold valued at $53.8 billion.

Since launching in November 2004, the Gold Shares Trust has grown very rapidly and is now one of the largest gold holders in the world.  The latest stats show the GLD holding 172.34 more tonnes of gold than China at 1,054.1 tonnes.  From zero at its inception, the GLD has become the world’s sixth largest holder of gold in less than seven years.

World Gold Holdings January 2011 - source: World Gold Council

The GLD came into existence at a very auspicious moment in financial history.  As the worst financial crisis since the Depression unfolded, some of the country’s largest banks failed. The entire financial system seemed to be heading for collapse.  Trillions of dollars in government aid stabilized the banking industry but there were plenty of nervous investors who viewed gold as the last monetary refuge.

Gold does not have the inherent counter-party risk that exists with paper financial assets.  An investor purchasing gold does not have to worry about being bailed out of a gold investment.  Gold and silver have intrinsic value that rapacious governments cannot destroy.

The SPDR Gold Share Trust opened the market to a flood of new buyers who were enticed by a very easy and low cost purchase process. Prior to the GLD, it took a dedicated gold buyer to search for a dealer, check credentials, physically drive to the dealer to pick up a gold purchase, followed by another trip to the safe deposit box.  Commissions on the GLD were minimal compared to the markup at dealers.  The GLD made buying gold simple with low markups and little transaction friction.  Investors, many of whom had never before owned gold, rushed into the GLD which became the fastest growing ETF in history.

The GLD launched in November 2004 when gold was trading at approximately $445 per ounce.  Shortly afterward, gold entered a long term rise concurrent with the geometric increase in GLD gold holdings.  The price of bullion tripled to the current level of $1361.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

9-Feb-11 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,226.44 -0.71 -54.28
SLV 10,370.22 -30.38 -551.35

Silver holdings in the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) declined by 30.38 tonnes over the past week compared to a decline in the previous week of 47.10 tonnes.  The year to date decline of 551.35 tonnes represents a 5% drop in silver holdings.    The SLV has declined by a very modest 2.5% from its high of $30.40 at the beginning of the year.  After a huge gain of 67% in the price of silver since late last year, it is normal to see price consolidation before another advance.

US Mint Silver Bullion Sales Set Monthly Record

The pace of sales for the United States Mint’s American Gold Eagle and American Silver Eagle bullion coins jumped in the past week. This propelled silver bullion sales far into record territory for the month of January.

In the prior week ending February 2, 2011, the US Mint sold 1,748,000 ounces worth of Silver Eagles and 56,500 ounces of Gold Eagles. These are sizable increases from the prior week, when the pace of sales had slowed considerably.

Currently, the US Mint offers only these two options for precious metals investors. The American Gold Buffalo, struck in 24 karat gold, has been unavailable for several months. The American Platinum Eagle remains on indefinite hiatus since late 2008. The recently introduced America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins are now in production for the 2011 designs, following the rapid sell out of the previous year’s coins.

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

Prior Week Month to Date Year to Date
American Silver Eagle 1,748,000 50,000 6,472,000
American Gold Eagle 56,500 6,000 139,500
America the Beautiful Silver 0 0 0
American Platinum Eagle 0 0 0
American Gold Buffalo 0 0 0

For the month of January 2011, Silver Eagle bullion coin sales reached 6,422,000, representing the highest monthly sales total in the history of the program. The previous monthly record of 4,260,000 ounces was set in November 2010, at the time breaking the long standing record of 3,696,000 ounces from December 1986.

To put this monthly sales total into perspective, there were ten separate years of the program where annual sales did not reach this level. If the pace of sales continues for the rest of 2011, more than 77 million ounces of silver would be sold. This amount exceeds the total annual domestic silver mining production of the United States.

GLD and SLV Holdings Decline as Investors Ponder Next Move in Gold and Silver

Both the SPDR Gold Share Trust (GLD) and the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) registered minor declines over the past week.

Holdings in the GLD declined by 2.43 tonnes compared to a decline of 21.85 tonnes in the previous week.  Since the start of the year, total holdings have declined by 4.2% or 53.57 tonnes.  The GLD currently holds 39.5 million ounces of gold.

The holdings of the GLD currently have a market value of $52.7 billion, making the GDL a very significant presence in the gold market.   The market cap of the GLD  far exceeds that of major gold producers such as Goldcorp (GG) at $30 billion, Newmont Mining (NEM) at $27.4 billion and Randgold (GOLD) at $7.1 billion.

Gold has now made three failed attempts to decisively pierce the $1400 level since last November, forming a triple top in the process.  The failure to breakout to new highs and the large price gain of $250 per ounce since last July has motivated some nervous selling by gold investors.  A look at the one year chart shows that gold’s short term momentum has faltered as prices breached the 14 day moving average.  The next important test will be at the 200 day moving average which gold has traded above for the past two years.

1 YEAR GOLD PRICE - COURTESY KITCO.COM

Despite the recent minor setback in gold prices, the long term trend of gold remains intact technically and fundamentally.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

2-Feb-2011

Weekly Change

YTD Change

GLD

1,227.15

-2.43

-53.57

SLV

10,400.60

-47.10

-520.97

Silver holdings in the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) declined by 47.1 tonnes over the past week compared to a decline in the previous week of 127.6 tonnes.  The year to date decline of 520.97 tonnes represents a 4.7% drop in silver holdings which trails the 7.8% year to date decline in the price of silver.  The SLV has declined by 9% from its high of $30.40 at the beginning of the year.  After a huge gain of 67% in the price of silver since late last year, it is normal to see price consolidation before another advance.

In this writer’s opinion we have not seen a parabolic blow off type price move, nor have we seen the excited entry of first time silver buyers lured by stories of rising prices.  One of the sentiment gauges that I use involve noting how many of my friends and clients ask or offer unsolicited advice on a specific investment category.  Thus far, not even one person has mentioned silver.  Despite the huge advance in silver prices, public awareness seems minimal, implying long term bullishness.

SLV - courtesy yahoo finance

American Gold and Silver Eagle Sales Slower

After generating some mainstream media attention for the record pace of sales, United States Mint bullion coins had a quiet week. According to figures provided by the Mint, only 136,000 ounces of American Silver Eagles and 7,500 ounces of American Gold Eagles were sold in the past week.

Some have noted the divergence in the sales of bullion coins, which are in record territory for the month, and exchange traded fund (ETF) holdings, which continue to decline. Both have an impact on demand for silver, although the nature the of the buyers for each type of investment are different.

Those purchasing ETF’s are more likely to be professionals or other investors trying to participate in short terms price gains. Since bullion coins are comparatively more difficult to buy and sell and carry larger spreads, these buyers are more likely to be making longer term investments.

US Mint Mint Bullion Coin Program Sales 1/26/2011 (ounces)

Prior Week Year to Date
American Silver Eagle 136,000 4,724,000
American Gold Eagle 7,500 83,000
American Platinum Eagle 0 0
American Gold Buffalo 0 0

The US Mint has now sold 4,724,000 of the one ounce Silver Eagles for the year to date. This includes a remaining quantity of 2010-dated coins, as well as the newly released 2011 Silver Eagles. This is the highest monthly sales total in the history of the program.

American Gold Eagle sales total 83,000 for the year to date. This includes sales of 80,500 one ounce coins, 1,000 one-half ounce coins, 2,000 one-quarter ounce coins, and 15,000 one-tenth ounce coins. The fractional weight coins represent 2010 Gold Eagles, while the one ounce coins included 2010 and 2011-dated coins.

Will Speculative Positions in the GLD and SLV Accelerate a Precious Metals Selloff?

Given the recent pullback in the prices of gold and silver, it was not unexpected to see another decline in the holdings of both the SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) and the iShares Silver Trust (SLV).

Holding in the GLD declined by 21.85 metric tonnes, compared to a decline last week of 20.04 tonnes.  The year to date decline now totals 51.14 metric tonnes, representing 1.8 million ounces of gold worth about $2.4 billion.  GLD holdings had declined by 39.75 metric tonnes in 2010 after reaching record high of 1,320.47 tonnes on June 29.

Fluctuations in the holdings in the SPDR Gold Shares Trust are not always directly correlated to price movements in the metal.  As holdings were declining from all time highs in late June, the price of gold continued to soar another $200 per ounce from the $1200 level in July to $1400 by October.

Some have expressed concerns that declines in the price of gold may be compounded if large positions in the GLD held by speculators are sold. Since late 2008, the GLD has doubled in value as gold prices soared.  With the GLD holding a huge $52.5 billion worth of gold, any large scale liquidation of positions would certainly seem to have the impact of accelerating a price correction in gold.

1 Year Gold - Courtesy kitco.com

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

Jan 26, 2011 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,229.58 -21.85 -51.14
SLV 10,447.70 -127.62 -473.87

Silver holdings in the iShares Silver Trust declined by 1.2% for the week, representing reduction of 127.62 tonnes.  The year to date decline has now reached 473.87 tonnes, or a 4.3% from the beginning of the year.  Meanwhile, the price of silver has seen a 10% drop from its high of $30.70.

The SLV represents an easy vehicle for hot money to jump into the silver market and purchases by the SLV have contributed to demand for silver.

Increased silver purchases by the SLV helped to propel silver prices higher last year, but this same process can work in reverse.   Large sell orders by speculative holders of the SLV could result in a sharp decline in the price of silver as the SLV liquidates its holdings.

One year silver - Courtesy kitco.com

Gold and Silver ETF Holdings Continue To Decline

As gold and silver continue to trade in a narrow range, investors have reduced their holdings in both the SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) and the iShares Silver Trust (SLV).

Holdings in the GLD declined by 20.04 metric tonnes over the past week, a substantial decrease compared to last week’s reduction of 1.21 tonnes.  The record high holdings of 1,320.47 tonnes in the GLD was reached last year on June 29 when gold bullion was trading in the $1250 range.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

Jan 19, 2011 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,251.43 -20.04 -29.29
SLV 10,575.32 -150.41 -346.25

The price of gold has now dipped decisively below its 50 day moving average but is still well above the 200 day moving average.   Last year’s July price correction in gold to slightly above the 200 day moving average was followed by a rally of $260 in the price of gold.  A pullback to the 200 day moving average would result in a price decline of about $100 for gold.

Gold Chart - Courtesy stockcharts.com

The SLV declined by 150.41 tonnes compared to a reduction of 191.46 tonnes in the previous week.  Total silver held by the Silver Trust amounts to 340.004 million ounces.   Silver has had a huge price move since last September when it was trading in the $18 per ounce range.  Precious metals can exhibit volatile price movements, but so far silver continues to consolidate and has surrendered only a small part of its gains from the $31 per ounce level reached at the beginning of the year.

Silver - Courtesy stockcharts.com

Monthly American Silver Eagle Sales Already in Record Territory

Gold and silver bullion coin sales at the United States Mint are showing exceptional strength. In the past week, authorized purchasers ordered 1,181,000 ounces worth of American Silver Eagles and 32,000 ounces worth of American Gold Eagles.

For the Silver Eagle bullion coins, total sales for the month have now risen to 4,588,000 ounces. With the month not even two-third complete, this total already represents a new record high for monthly silver bullion sales. The previous monthly sales record of 4,260,000 ounces was set in November 2010.

On January 3, the US Mint had begun sales of the 2011 Silver Eagle. Strong initial sales are typical when newly dated coins are available, however the strength has persisted, suggesting other factors are at play. Some new investors may making purchases following silver’s stellar performance during 2010. Existing investors may be adding to positions after silver experienced a brief 7% decline.

US Mint Mint Bullion Coin Program Sales 1/19/2011 (ounces)

Prior Week Year to Date
American Silver Eagle 1,181,000 4,588,000
American Gold Eagle 32,000 75,500
American Platinum Eagle 0 0
American Gold Buffalo 0 0

For the year to date, the US Mint has now sold 75,500 ounces worth of Gold Eagle bullion coins. This is comprised of 73,000 one ounce coins, 1,000 one-half ounce coins, 2,000 one-quarter ounce coins, and 15,000 one-tenth ounce coins. Sales of the 2011-dated one ounce coins began on January 3. Sales of the fractional weight coins are remaining 2010-dated coins.

The month to date total for gold bullion sales now approaches the full month sales level for the year ago period, when 85,000 ounces were sold.

US Mint 2011 American Silver Eagles Selling Quickly

United States Mint bullion coin sales remained robust for the two available options. In the prior week, authorized purchasers ordered 1,322,000 ounces of American Silver Eagles and 25,000 ounces of American Gold Eagles.

For bullion coin programs, the US Mint does not sell directly to the public, but distributes the coins through a network of authorized purchasers. A group of 11 primary distributors can order coins in bulk quantities from the Mint based on the market price of the precious metals, plus a mark up. In turn, they resell the coins to other precious metals dealers, coin dealers, and the public, as well as facilitate a two way market for the bullion coins.

The US Mint began sales of 2011-dated Gold and Silver Eagles on January 3, 2011. Because inventory of 2010-dated coins remained, the Mint required authorized purchasers to order the newer coins on a ratio basis. For every five 2011 Silver Eagles ordered, they were required to take one 2010 Silver Eagle. For Gold Eagles, the AP’s could order four 2011 coins for every one 2010 coin.

At this time, the US Mint only has available one ounce 2011 Gold Eagles, with fractional weight coins planned to be issued later in the year. The American Silver Eagle is only produced in one ounce size. The release dates for the 2011-dated American Platinum Eagle and 24 karat American Gold Buffalo coins have not yet been announced.

So far, the month of January 2011 is shaping up to be a strong one for silver bullion sales. The past week’s orders for 1,322,000 ounces, bring the monthly (and year to date) total to 3,407,000. In January 2010, the US Mint had sold 3,592,000 ounces for the entire month.

US Mint Mint Bullion Coin Program Sales 1/12/2011 (ounces)

Prior Week Year to Date
American Silver Eagle 1,322,000 3,407,000
American Gold Eagle 25,000 43,500
American Platinum Eagle 0 0
American Gold Buffalo 0 0

Gold and Silver ETF Holdings Decline As Precious Metals Continue Sideways Price Action

After major upward price movement during the later half of 2010, both the SLV and GLD continue their sideway price action.

As gold and silver prices continue to consolidate, gold holdings in the SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) and silver holdings in the iShares Silver Trust (SLV)  both declined.

The iShares Silver Trust, the largest exchange traded fund back by silver, has a market value of $10.2 billion.  After a one year return of almost 80%, the SLV showed a weekly decline of 191.46 metric tonnes from the previous week.  The SLV now holds a total of 10,725.73 metric tonnes of silver or 344.840 million ounces.

The holdings in the GLD declined by 1.21 metric tonnes in the past week to 1,271.47.  The record high holdings of 1,320.47 tonnes in the GLD was reached last year on June 29 when gold bullion was trading in the $1250 range.

Despite the lack of correlation between gold prices and gold holdings of the GLD, investing in the GLD has produced approximately similar returns to owning bullion, disregarding transaction costs.  The price gain during 2010 was approximately 28% for both gold bullion and the GLD.   For those who choose to avoid holding the physical metal, the GLD was an excellent substitute choice for gold bullion in 2010.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tons)

Jan 12, 2011 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,271.47 -1.21 -9.25
SLV 10,725.73 -191.46 -195.84

GOLD - COURTESY STOCKCHARTS.COM

GLD - COURTESY STOCKCHARTS.COM