May 23, 2024

Demand for Physical Gold Surging

There have been numerous recent reports about the surging demand for physical gold. It has been mostly concentrated in Europe, but there have also been signs of new waves of demand hitting the U.S.

This is a big shift from earlier this year. For the first two months of 2010, the Austrian Mint had reported that Gold Philharmonic sales had dropped 80% from the year ago levels. Similarly, the Royal British Mint had reported a drop in demand of about 50% through the end of the first quarter.

What a difference a crisis makes.

Recently, the Austrian Mint reported that they had sold more coins in two weeks than the entire first quarter, citing demand “exclusively from Europe.” Swiss refiner Argor-Heraeus has estimated that demand for small gold bars and refined products has jumped tenfold compared to the start of the year.

On the US front, sales have strengthened in recent weeks, but there hasn’t been the surging demand seen in 2008, which prompted repeated suspensions and bullion rationing programs.

For the month to date, the US Mint has sold 81,000 of their one ounce Gold Eagle bullion coins. This already tops the prior month total of 60,500. One ounce Silver Eagle bullion coins have sold 2,381,000 coins for the month to date, nearing last months total of 2,507,500. The newly released one ounce 24 karat Gold Buffalo has sold 54,000 coins for the month. The coins debuted on April 29, 2010, making prior month comparisons less meaningful.

Gold Philharmonic Sales Drop 80%

Recent reports indicate that sales of gold bullion coins from the Austrian Mint have dropped a shocking 80% from year ago levels. The Austrian Mint produces the Gold Philharmonic, which has for some quarters been the world’s best selling gold bullion coin.

According to the article, the Marketing Director of the Austrian Mint indicating that they had returned to “business as usual” rather than “hectic, panic demand” experienced over the past few years.

Gold Philharmonic sales fell to 53,930 ounces for January and February 2010 compared to 267,091 ounces for the same period in the prior year.

For comparison, I checked the sales figures for the American Gold Eagle bullion coins, which I follow more closely. According to the US Mint provided figures, there were sales of 169,000 ounces of gold in January and February 2010, compared to 205,500. While this does represent a drop of about 18%, its not of the magnitude shown at the Austrian Mint.

While demand for physical gold does seem to have pulled back from the extreme levels of recent years, the magnitude is not as huge as suggested by the Gold Philharmonic numbers.