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U.S. Gold-Coin Sales Slump as Prices Rebound on Asian Demand

Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Sales of U.S. Mint American Eagle gold-coins, which have slowed since prices entered a bear market in April, are down 87 percent this month from August last year.

The mint sold 3,000 ounces of the coins so far this month, down from 209,500 ounces in April, its website shows. August sales may total about 5,077 ounces at the current pace, according to Bloomberg calculations, compared with 39,000 ounces in August last year.

Gold slid 19 percent this year through yesterday as some investors lost faith in the metal as a store of value and on speculation the Federal Reserve will slow stimulus that helped the metal rally for 12 years. Bullion has rebounded 16 percent from a 34-month low on June 28 as lower prices spurred physical purchases from China to Turkey.

“People in Asia have clearly taken advantage of the lower gold price in recent months and bought huge amounts,” Daniel Briesemann, an analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt, said today by telephone. “Some quite encouraging economic data of late out of the U.S.” may be slowing American coin demand.

Gold-coin purchases totaled 682,500 ounces this year, compared with 753,000 ounces in all of 2012, the Mint said. Sales of American Eagle silver coins were 31.9 million ounces so far this year, compared with 33.7 million in 2012, according to data on the website. The mint, which said in April that it ran out of its smallest gold items, said in June that sales of gold and silver coin may climb to a record this year.

American Eagle gold-coin sales were valued at $1.26 billion last year, based on an all-time high average gold price.

Asia Demand

“The demand for silver has remained very strong,” said Michael Haynes, the chief executive officer of American Precious Metals Exchange, an online bullion dealer, said in a telephone interview. “I am very bullish on silver.”

Gold futures for December delivery rose 0.6 percent to $1,374.20 an ounce at 10:56 a.m. on the Comex in New York, and silver futures for December delivery climbed less than 0.1 percent to $23.225 an ounce. The white metal jumped 15 percent last week, the most since 2008.

Gold bar and coin purchases reached a record last quarter and jewelry usage rose to the most since 2008, World Gold Council figures showed last week.

Demand in India and labor concerns in South Africa may boost prices in the next four to five weeks, JPMorgan Chase & Co. said in a report dated Aug. 15.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nicholas Larkin in London at nlarkin1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net

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