U.S. Mint Silver-Coin Sales Gain to All-Time High in January

Sales of American Eagle silver coins by the U.S. Mint jumped to a record this month on increased demand for an alternative to currencies as the U.S. central bank presses on with unprecedented stimulus.

Sales surged to 7.42 million ounces so far in January, the biggest monthly total since 1986, when the Washington-based Mint began the transactions, Michael White, a spokesman, said in a phone interview yesterday. The figure compares with the 1.635 million ounces sold in December, according to mint data.

So-called loose monetary policies and rising industrial consumption will support silver demand, according to Morgan Stanley, which described the metal as a “cheap gold proxy” in a Jan. 24 report. Prices have more than doubled since 2008 as the U.S. Federal Reserve, which concludes a two-day policy meeting today, boosts stimulus to spur a recovery. Investment holdings of silver reached an all-time high this month.

“The quantitative easing has helped boost sales as people are worried about currency debasement and future inflation,” Anthem Blanchard, chief executive officer of Blanchard Vault, a Las Vegas-based online retailer of gold and silver, said in a telephone interview. “We expect demand to remain buoyant.”

The Mint resumed silver-coin sales Jan. 28 after suspending them for more than a week because of a lack of inventory. Sales of American Eagle gold coins have risen 84 percent to 140,000 ounces so far this month compared with December, Mint data show. That would be the highest monthly total since July 2010.

More Stimulus

Silver for March delivery advanced for a second day, gaining as much as 1 percent to $31.50 an ounce on the Comex in New York. The metal, which traded at $31.42 at 7:36 a.m. in London, has climbed 4 percent this year as central banks from the U.S. to Japan pledged more stimulus to boost growth.

Global holdings in exchange-traded products were 19,407 metric tons yesterday, within 1.5 percent of the record 19,699 tons on Jan. 18, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Investors may add 750 tons to ETPs this year, according to Morgan Stanley.

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke will push on with purchases of $40 billion a month of mortgage bonds and $45 billion a month of Treasuries until the first quarter of 2014, according to a Bloomberg survey of 44 economists.

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