Following numerous records, including a series of best ever months, the all-time monthly high in January and a fresh annual record, November turned cold for American Silver Eagle bullion sales.
In a word, the Silver Eagle "imploded" in November. United States Mint buyers ordered only 1,384,000 in a month that is usually seasonally strong for bullion. The figure would be respectable for other months in a series dating back to 1986. But it is squarely on a pathetic level when contrasted against the explosive monthly performances market-watchers have come to expect since the demand-fueled Silver Eagle blasted off in late 2007.
Silver Eagle bullion sales have dipped for two straight months. The latest total represents a decline of 54.8 percent from the previous month when the U.S. Mint sold 3,064,000 and an all-telling 67.5 percent from a year ago when 4,260,000 left U.S. Mint inventories. The previous monthly tally, while down, still ranked as the 14th best ever month. The total from a year ago was an all-time monthly record at the time, although it has fallen to the number three spot since. November bullion sales will not be found in any top-selling list, like other recent months shown below, as the level was the weakest since the July 2008 total of 1,251,500.
Top 15 All-Time Months for Silver Eagle Bullion Sales
Silver prices have governed American Silver Eagle demand this year, but not in an always predictable way. Buying activity often ignited not when prices were about to peak or peaked, but on the downward curve of volatile silver movements. And with few exceptions, interest in bullion Silver Eagles trended highest as the white metal retreated from $40 an ounce. Recent demand — even during spurts of precious metal volatility — has softened as daily prices crowded the $30 an ounce area, as was the case in much of October and November. In general, demand has tapered when silver remains within a narrow price range and for an extended period of time.
The following table offers at least a small sense of recent buying trends. Shown are monthly 2011 Silver Eagle bullion sales along with the average, low and high London Fix silver prices, as provided by Kitco Metals.
2011 Silver Eagle Bullion Sales & London Fix Monthly Silver Average
|Monthly Rank||Monthly Sales||Average Silver Price||High Silver Price||Low Silver Price|
Year-to-date bullion sales have reached 37,859,500. Last year’s annual sales record of 34,662,500 was first shattered in early October.
Every American Silver Eagle is struck from .999 fine silver and shares the same obverse and reverse designs. Three versions are normally offered annually by the United States Mint. One is for investors, the bullion coin and the topic of this article, and the other two are numismatic issues struck for coin collectors. The collector 2011-W Proof Silver Eagle sold out on November 22 with sales of 950,000, including the 100,000 within the also sold out American Silver Eagle 25th Anniversary Set. The proof version has a mirror-like background with a frosted and sculpted foreground. The collector 2011-W Uncirculated Silver Eagle is still available from the Mint for $50.95. While its finish is similar to the bullion version, it can be distinguished by it West Point (‘W’) mint mark. Available since September 15, buyers have purchased 188,848 of the uncirculated coins as of November 28.
American Gold Eagles
The United States Mint also fulfilled orders of gold bullion coins in November. The Mint’s American Gold Eagle totaled 41,000 ounces, down from the 50,000 ounces in October. Gold Eagles are sold in fractional sizes consisting of one ounce, half ounce, quarter ounce, and tenth ounce coins. 57,500 coins in all were sold.