Spot silver [paper silver...Ed, CV] traded on on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange fell to $18.24 a troy ounce in late June, the lowest in almost three years, boosting its attractiveness to investors.
The metal was down around 32% at $20.71 an ounce Thursday.
But sales of silver coins are “poised to match record sales levels witnessed in 2011,” Thomson Reuters GFMS said, adding that spot silver prices are likely to rise and average $24.24 an ounce in 2013.
Already, sales of the U.S. Mint’s American Eagle silver coins have surpassed 2012 levels, as investors are snapping silver coins up “at a breakneck pace,” said Dallas-based precious metals dealer Dillon Gage Inc.
The dealer expects American Eagle silver coin sales in the U.S. to exceed a record of 39.868 million troy ounces set in 2011. Silver coin sales totalled 39.17 million ounces in the 10 months ended Oct. 31, eclipsing the 33.74 million ounces sold in 2012, it said.
“Eagles are one of the most convenient ways to invest in silver bullion. They are much easier to sell, store and transport than large silver bars,” said Terry Hanlon, president of Dillon Gage.
In Asia, silver coin demand has been increasing since the start of the year, said Zane Lim, regional manager at precious metals dealer Bullionstar.com.
“American Eagle silver coin is the most popular product in our portfolio,” Mr. Lim said. “For a new investor, silver is attractive and coins are easier to purchase with greater liquidity compared to bars.”
Coin buyers are usually long-term investors, analysts said, and global economic uncertainties have pushed investors toward gold coins.
Data from the U.S. Mint showed demand for American Eagle gold coins is on track to exceed last year’s, with 752,500 ounces sold between January and October, just short of 2012 sales of 753,000 ounces.
Worries about the stability of the U.S. federal government amid a 16-day partial shutdown in October helped boost American Eagle gold-coin sales to 48,500 ounces last month, more than triple the 13,000 ounces sold in September.
But demand for silver coins remains stronger than that for gold coins, partly because each ounce of gold costs about 60 times more than silver. Also, silver’s greater volatility compared to gold makes it attractive to investors with a large risk appetite, Thomson Reuters GFMS said.