Gold turned away from early gains Wednesday, cementing a second straight annual loss and closing 2014 at below $1,200 an ounce.
Gold for February delivery shed $16.30, or 1.4%, to settle at $1,184.10 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The precious metal would have gained on the year if it had ended near its daily high of $1,203.90. Instead, gold prices fell $18.20, or 1.5%, from the Dec. 31, 2013 settlement price of $1,202.30 an ounce. A stronger U.S. dollar pressured commodities for much of 2014.
"Gold has had several problems," George Gero, a precious metals strategist at RBC Capital Markets in New York, said in a telephone interview according to Bloomberg News. "The improving U.S. economy, the continued better labor picture, the lack of inflation, very strong stocks and the very strong dollar weighed on gold this year."
Gold’s loss in 2014 was modest compared to a year ago. Gold prices tumbled 28.3% in 2013, registering an annual decline that was the biggest in 32 years and the first since 2000. In looking ahead, some analysts like where the yellow metal is now sitting.
"Gold has priced in a lot of the downside already… If you have a long-term investment horizon then I think gold represents a good buy at this time," Kitco News quoted Victor Thianpiriya, commodity strategist at the Australian bank. "Our core view for gold and the precious metals complex is that the potential for a recovery in prices through 2015 is much better than it was this year, despite the expected lift-off of the U.S. Fed Funds rate," Thianpiriya said in his report.
"Prices will be relatively stronger until the middle of the first quarter because of seasonal demand and some safe-haven bids," Reuters quoted Chen Min, a precious metals analyst at Jinrui Futures in Shenzhen. "But after that, concerns over interest rates and the dollar strength will weigh on prices."
Silver never had a chance of eking out an annual gain Wednesday with prices sliding for most of the year. On the day, silver for March delivery tumbled 68 cents, or 4.2%, to close at $15.60 an ounce. For the year, silver prices plummeted $3.77, or 19.5%, compared to the 2013 closing price of $19.37 an ounce. Last year, prices dived $10.86, or 35.9%.
In rounding out the precious metals futures complex:
April platinum lost $9.80, or 0.8%, to $1,209.50 an ounce, ranging from $1,203.30 to $1,220.40.
- Palladium for March delivery fell $5.80, or 0.7%, to $798.40 an ounce, trading between $795 and $807.50.
In annual results, platinum dropped $164.30, or 12%, but palladium surged $80.10, or 11.2%. Palladium’s annual gain is a third straight.
London Fix Precious Metals
Earlier fixed London precious metals were divided in a shortened day as UK markets closed early New Year’s Eve. When comparing London bullion Fix prices from Tuesday PM to Wednesday AM:
- Gold slipped $6.75, or 0.6%, to $1,199.25 an ounce,
- Silver added 18 cents, or 1.1%, to $15.97 an ounce,
- Platinum gained $4, or 0.3%, to $1,210 an ounce, and
- Palladium declined $13, or 1.6%, to $798 an ounce.
London palladium also advanced in 2014, up 12.2%. The other metals moved lower by 0.2% for gold, 18.1% for silver and 10.9% for platinum.
US Mint Bullion Coin Sales in 2014
Demand for United States Mint bullion products was mixed this year — stronger for silver coins but weaker for gold coins. In annual sales comparisons between 2013 and 2014:
American Eagle gold coins reached sales of 524,500 ounces in 2014 compared to 856,500 ounces in 2013, marking a 38.8% decline. The U.S. Mint will begin accepting orders from its distributors for 2015-dated Gold Eagles on Jan. 5, 2015.
American Eagle silver coins hit 44,006,000 ounces in 2014 — a new, all-time annual sales record — versus the previous record of 42,675,000 ounces in 2013. Sales increased 3.1% from the last year. The coins have been produced annually since 1986, adding significance to the record. 2014-dated Silver Eagles sold out on Dec. 24. The U.S. Mint will begin accepting orders for 2015-dated Silver Eagles on Jan. 12, 2015.
American Buffalo gold coins reached annual sales of 177,500 ounces in 2014 compared to 239,000 ounces in 2013, marking a 25.7% decline. The U.S. Mint will begin taking orders for 2015-dated Gold Buffalo coins on Jan. 5, 2015.
American Eagle platinum coins hit 16,900 ounces in 2014. Until this year, the bullion coins had not been issued since 2008.
America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Bullion Coins reached annual sales of 135,300 units in 2014 compared to 223,100 units in 2013. The first 2015-dated ATB coin is expected to launch in February.
Below is a sales breakdown of U.S. Mint bullion products with columns listing the number of bullion coins sold last week, last month, in December, and 2014 annual sales. Coins with an asterisk (*) have sold out.
|American Eagle and Buffalo Bullion Sales (# of coins)|
|Wednesday / Current Week Sales||Last Week||November Sales||December Sales||Annual Sales|
|$100 American Platinum Eagle Bullion Coins*||0||0||0||0||16,900|
|$50 American Eagle Bullion Gold Coins||0||1,000||49,000||13,000||415,500|
|$25 American Eagle Bullion Gold Coins||0||0||8,000||0||46,000|
|$10 American Eagle Bullion Gold Coins||0||0||12,000||6,000||118,000|
|$5 American Eagle Bullion Gold Coins||0||5,000||40,000||35,000||565,000|
|$50 American Buffalo Bullion Gold Coins||0||2,000||12,500||4,500||177,500|
|$1 American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins*||0||501,000||3,426,000||2,459,000||44,006,000|
|Great Smoky Mountains National Park 5 Oz Silver Bullion Coins*||0||0||0||0||33,000|
|Shenandoah National Park 5 Oz Silver Bullion Coins||0||0||900||1,100||24,400|
|Arches National Park 5 Oz Silver Bullion Coins*||0||0||0||0||22,000|
|Great Sand Dunes 5 Oz Silver Bullion Coins||0||0||1,700||4,000||21,900|
|Everglades 5 Oz Silver Bullion Coins||0||0||27,000||7,000||34,000|