Gold, Silver Tumble in 2015; US Mint Coin Sales Soar

Silver coins in bag and Gold Eagle bullion coins
Precious metals tumbled in 2015 but sales of U.S. Mint bullion coins soared.

Gold edged higher on the final trading day of 2015 but sank for a third straight annual decline, diving nearly 37% since the end of 2012 when it last logged a yearly gain.

Gold for February delivery inched up 40 cents to settle at $1,060.20 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices fell 1.5% on the week and dipped 0.5% in December.

"Gold is suffering from the general exodus out of commodity investments," Bloomberg News quoted Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank A/S in Copenhagen. "Being one of the most-traded commodities through ETFs, the selling pressure from paper investors has been felt particularly hard and gold’s safe-haven status has suffered."

The yellow metal lost 10.5% on the year after slipping 1.5% in 2014 and plunging 28.3% in 2013. In 2012, gold scored a 12th consecutive annual increase.

"The key factor for gold remains the strong dollar and that ultimately trumps all other issues including the economy and the geopolitics," Reuters quoted Ross Norman, chief executive of bullion broker Sharps Pixley.

Elsewhere, silver for March delivery shed 3.9 cents, or 0.3%, to settle at $13.803 an ounce. Silver prices dropped 4% on the week, posted a December loss of 2% and registered an annual decline of 11.5%. Like gold, silver has fallen for three straight years. Prices fell 19.5% in 2014 and they tumbled 35.9% in 2013.

In rounding out the precious metals futures complex:

  • April platinum tacked on $20.60, or 2.4%, to $893.20 an ounce, advancing 1% on the week and 7.2% on the month.

  • Palladium for March delivery rose $13.05, or 2.4%, to $562 an ounce, gaining 0.5% on the week and 3.5% in December.

Even with those gains, for the year platinum fell 26.2% while palladium dropped 29.6%. Palladium’s annual loss is the first in four years. Platinum followed gold and silver for a third straight yearly loss.

London Precious Metals Prices

Earlier fixed London precious metals were mixed in a shortened day as UK markets closed early New Year’s Eve. When comparing London bullion prices from Wednesday PM to Thursday AM:

  • Gold added $2.50, or 0.2%, to $1,062.50 an ounce,
  • Silver was unchanged $13.82 an ounce,
  • Platinum added $4, or 0.5%, to $872 an ounce, and
  • Palladium declined $8, or 1.4%, to $547 an ounce.

London precious metals prices tumbled on the year — 11.4% for gold, 13.5% for silver, 27.9% for platinum and 31.5% for palladium.

US Mint Bullion Coin Sales in 2015

Demand for United States Mint bullion coins surged in 2015 with most selling out and product series notching multi-year highs and an annual record. Here is summary of 2015 bullion sales by product:

  • American Eagle silver coins hit 47 million ounces in 2015, an annual sales record and 6.8% higher than the previous record of 44,006,000 ounces in 2014. The coins have been produced annually since 1986, adding significance to the milestone. 2015-dated American Silver Eagles sold out on Dec. 15. Last year’s issue sold out on Dec. 24.

  • American Eagle gold coins reached annual sales of 801,500 ounces compared to 524,500 ounces in 2014, marking a 52.8% increase. The U.S. Mint strikes the coins in four sizes. The three most popular sizes sold out in November.

  • American Buffalo gold coins posted 2015 sales of 220,500 ounces, their third best annual total and 24.2% higher than 2014 sales of 177,500 ounces. The two higher years were in 2013 at 239,000 ounces and the coin’s debut year in 2006 with sales of 323,000 ounces.

  • America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Bullion Coins reached 212,600, their second highest annual total and 57% stronger than 2014 sales of 135,400. The highest year happened in 2011 at 465,100 coins.

The U.S. Mint will begin taking orders for 2016-dated American Eagle and American Buffalo bullion coins on Jan. 11, 2016. The first of the five 2016-dated America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Bullion Coins is expected to launch in the first week of February.

Below is a sales breakdown of U.S. Mint bullion products with columns listing the number of bullion coins sold during varying periods. Products with an asterisk (*) have sold out.

US Mint Bullion Sales (# of coins)
Thursday / This Week Last Week Nov Sales Dec Sales Annual Sales
$50 American Eagle 1 Oz Gold Coins* N/A N/A 80,500 N/A 626,500
$25 American Eagle 1/2 Oz Gold Coins 0 0 7,000 1,000 75,000
$10 American Eagle 1/4 Oz Gold Coins* N/A N/A 12,000 N/A 158,000
$5 American Eagle 1/10 Oz Gold Coins* N/A N/A 100,000 N/A 980,000
$50 American Buffalo 1 Oz Gold Coins 0 0 38,000 1,500 220,500
$1 American Eagle 1 Oz Silver Coins* N/A N/A 4,824,000 2,333,500 47,000,000
2015 Homestead 5 Oz Silver Coins* N/A 35,000
2015 Kisatchie 5 Oz Silver Coins* 42,000
2015 Blue Ridge Parkway 5 Oz Silver Coins* 45,000
2015 Bombay Hook 5 Oz Silver Coins* 45,000
2015 Saratoga 5 Oz Silver Coins* N/A 35,800 9,200 45,000
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Seth Riesling

Mike Unser – Just a small correction in the American Eagle gold bullion version coins 2015 year sales is a 52.8% increase, not a decrease as your blog article states. Anyway, the past 3 years as your figures show have been a huge debacle for investors who bought silver, gold, palladium or platinum precious metals in ingot/bar or rounds form. That is just one more reason to stick to classic (old) U.S. Mint coins & modern U.S. Mint precious metal legal tender numismatic version coins which have much lower mintages. Gold in particular is no longer a hedge against inflation!… Read more »