Today, July 7, the United States Mint suspended sales of bullion American Silver Eagles, noting that a large increase in demand has depleted their inventories. The agency in a memo to authorized purchasers said the suspension would last about two weeks.
The move comes five weeks after the U.S. Mint lifted Silver Eagle sales restrictions. To maintain a supply and prevent earlier suspensions, the agency rationed how many coins sold each week. That allocation policy ended when sales hit a 10-month low in May at just over 2 million coins.
Typically, demand for bullion coins weakens in the summer months. That hasn’t panned out this year. Since May, sales of the 99.9% fine silver coins have soared even as silver prices have stumbled to below $15 an ounce. In the turnaround, American Silver Eagle sales in June surged to over 4.8 million coins, more than doubling May’s level and jumping 80% higher than same month sales from a year ago. Another 2.6 million moved through the first seven days in July. By comparison, less than 2 million sold through the entire month of July in 2014.
In Tuesday’s memo to bullion coin buyers, the Mint said:
"As you are aware, the significant increase in demand for American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins depleted our current inventories. The United States Mint facility at West Point, New York, continues to produce American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins and we anticipate resuming sales in approximately two weeks."
For the year to date, Silver Eagle sales stand at 24,395,000 coins. That tops the annual sales of all but 6 years going back to the series start in 1986, and it’s 0.8% higher than last year’s total of 24,203,500 through the same period. The annual American Silver Eagle sales record happened in 2014 at 44,006,000 coins. The Mint’s rationing system was also in use for much of last year.
Demand for American Eagle and American Buffalo gold bullion coins is also sharply higher since May.
United States Mint bullion coins are sold in bulk to authorized purchasers who consist of major coin and precious metals dealers, brokerage companies, and other participating financial intermediaries. They buy bullion coins in bulk and then resell them for a small premium over their melt value.
This article was updated to include the latest available sales figures through July 7, 2015.