Gold and silver futures eased lower Friday, retreating from 1-year and 3.5-month highs, but they still notched weekly gains of about 7% as investors sought safety from plunging oil and global stock markets. The pair of metals also extended their winning streaks to four weeks in a row, and gold scored its best weekly gain in more than 7 years.
Gold for April delivery on Friday declined $8.40, or 0.7%, to settle at $1,239.40 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Friday’s action "shows a reprieve after a week of extremely heavy buying," MarketWatch quoted Anthem Blanchard, chief executive officer of Anthem Vault. "It is actually healthy for gold because it needed to take a breather to keep its general upward price momentum intact."
As for the week, gold futures surged $81.70 or 7.1% for, according to MarketWatch, their best week since the one ended Dec. 12, 2008. They are 16.9% higher on the year, leading gains among precious metals.
"If you’re looking for the path of least resistance, it’s gold right now. I think this has legs. I don’t think it’s going to be short term," Reuters quoted Jeffrey Sica, chief investment officer of Sica Wealth Management in Morristown, New Jersey.
On Thursday, gold surged $53.20 for its biggest daily increase since Sept. 19, 2013 and it logged the strongest settlement since Feb. 5, 2015.
In looking ahead to next week, Kitco News offers the following forecasts via their Wall Street vs. Main Street survey:
"This week, the online survey brought in 1,953 votes, of which 1,678 participants, or 86%, said they are bullish on gold next week. This is the second week the survey has hit that level and is the fourth straight week it has been above 80%. At the same time, 177 people, or 9%, said they are bearish on gold next week and 98 people, or 5%, are neutral.
Although the spread is much narrower, a majority of market analysts also expect gold prices to move higher in the near-term. Out of 34 market experts contacted, 17 responded, of which nine, or 53%, said they expect to see higher prices next week. At the same time seven professionals, or 41%, said they see lower prices and one analyst was neutral on the market."
Elsewhere, silver for March delivery on Friday shed less than a half penny to close at $15.79 an ounce. For the week, it rallied $1.01 or 6.9%. The precious metal saw its biggest recent gain on Thursday when prices jumped 51.2 cents and closed at their best level since Oct. 28. Silver has soared 14.4% so far this year.
In PGM futures on Friday and for the week:
April platinum lost $5.10, or 0.5%, to $958.10 an ounce, but gained 6% on the week.
- Palladium for March delivery added $2.55, or 0.5%, to $527 an ounce, rising 5.7% for the week.
For the year to date, platinum has gained 1.2% while palladium has plunged 11.3%.
London Precious Metals Prices
London precious metals were mixed on Friday and higher on the week. In comparing their levels from Thursday PM to Friday PM:
- Gold declined $1.25, or 0.1%, to $1,239.75 an ounce.
- Silver declined a penny, or less than 0.1%, to $15.64 an ounce.
- Platinum added $9, or 0.9%, to $957 an ounce.
- Palladium added $5, or 1%, to $526 an ounce.
For the week, gains totaled 7.8% for gold, 4.9% for silver, 6.5% for platinum and 1.7% for palladium.
US Mint Bullion Sales in 2016
United States Mint bullion coins posted strong sales. In weekly comparisons:
Gold coin sales advanced 31,500 ounces to more than double last week’s 14,500 ounces. Sales splits include 27,500 ounces in American Gold Eagles compared to 12,500 ounces previously and 4,000 ounces in American Gold Buffalo coins versus 2,000 ounces previously.
Silver coin sales moved up by 1.1 million ounces after rising by 1,320,500 ounces last week. Sales splits include 1 million ounces in American Silver Eagles versus 1,045,500 ounces previously and 100,000 ounces in American the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Bullion Coins compared to 275,000 ounces previously.
The U.S. Mint is rationing weekly sales of American Silver Eagles because of silver planchet shortages. All of the week’s allocated 1 million coins were ordered by Wednesday. Their cumulative total stands at 8 million coins since going on sale Jan. 11. Last year’s 2015-dated Silver Eagle ended at a record 47 million coins, with sales through Feb. 12, 2015 reaching 6,919,000 coins.
Two weeks ago Monday, on Feb. 1, the U.S. Mint released the first 2016-dated America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Bullion Coin. Commemorating Shawnee National Forest in Illinois, it reached sales of 55,000 coins through last week and climbed another 20,000 coins this week for a cumulative total of 75,000 coins or 375,000 ounces — the highest for any release in the series since the 2011 Olympic National Park release logged sales of 104,900 coins.
Below is a sales breakdown of United States Mint bullion products with columns listing the number of bullion coins sold during varying periods of time.
|US Mint Bullion Sales (# of coins)|
|Friday Sales||Last Week||This Week||Jan Sales||Feb Sales||2016 Sales|
|$50 American Eagle 1 Oz Gold Coins||0||9,500||25,500||89,000||35,000||124,000|
|$25 American Eagle 1/2 Oz Gold Coins||0||3,000||0||23,000||3,000||26,000|
|$10 American Eagle 1/4 Oz Gold Coins||0||0||2,000||36,000||2,000||38,000|
|$5 American Eagle 1/10 Oz Gold Coins||0||15,000||15,000||145,000||30,000||175,000|
|$50 American Buffalo 1 Oz Gold Coins||0||2,000||4,000||34,000||6,000||40,000|
|$1 American Eagle 1 Oz Silver Coins||0||1,045,500||1,000,000||5,954,500||2,045,500||8,000,000|
|2016 Shawnee 5 Oz Silver Coins||0||55,000||20,000||N/A||75,000||75,000|