Gold and silver futures advanced on the last trading day of March, securing gains for the month while also scoring sharp quarterly increases — for gold, the strongest in almost 30 years.
Gold for June delivery added $7, or 0.6%, to settle at $1,235.60 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
"The dovish remarks by [Fed Chair] Yellen earlier this week which reinforced the Fed’s stance to proceed gradually and cautiously with rate hikes this year have weighed on the U.S. dollar index, which is a positive for gold," Bloomberg News quoted Vyanne Lai, an economist at National Australia Bank Ltd. "Investment demand for gold appears to be holding up."
Gold futures rose only by 0.1% in March but soared 16.5% in the first quarter of the year, their best quarterly gain since the third one in 1986.
Silver for May delivery tacked on 25.3 cents, or 1.7%, to settle at $15.464 an ounce. Silver prices advanced 3.7% in the first three months of 2016 and 12% since ending last year at $13.803 an ounce.
In PGM futures on Thursday and in March:
July platinum added $11.30, or 1.2%, to $977.50 an ounce, rising 4.6% on the month.
- Palladium for June delivery shed $2.35, or 0.4%, to $564 an ounce, and soared 13.8% from February.
In the first quarter, platinum climbed 9.4% while palladium inched up 0.4%.
London Precious Metals Prices
London precious metals also gained on the month and quarter. In first comparing their levels from Wednesday PM to Thursday PM:
- Gold added 75 cents to $1,237 an ounce.
- Silver was unchanged at $15.38 an ounce.
- Platinum added $5, or 0.5%, to $976 an ounce, and
- Palladium fell $1, or 0.2%, to $569 an ounce.
In London metal prices for March, the advances included 0.2% for gold, 4.3% for silver, 6.2% for platinum and 15.2% for palladium.
For the quarter, their increases totaled 16.4% for gold, 11.3% for silver, 11.9% for platinum and 4% for palladium.
US Mint Bullion Sales in March
U.S. Mint sales of American Eagle and Buffalo bullion coins slowed for a second month in a row but their quarterly levels easily topped those of a year ago. In headline comparisons:
American Eagle gold coins reached 38,000 ounces, falling 54.5% from the February total of 83,500 ounces and dropping 18.3% from the 46,500 ounces moved in March of last year. In the first quarter, sales total 245,500 ounces for a 68.2% increase over the 146,000 ounces sold during the first three months of last year.
The U.S. Mint is rationing weekly sales of American Eagle silver coins because of silver planchet shortages. Still, they advanced 4,106,000 for the month. Silver Eagle sales fell 14.1% from February’s total of 4,782,000 coins but jumped 16.7% from the March 2015 level of 3,519,000 coins. 2016 Silver Eagle sales are at 14,842,500 for the year to date, which is 23% higher than sales of 12,071,000 coins through the same time frame in record year 2015.
American Buffalo gold coins moved up by 7,000, falling 63.2% from February sales of 19,000 ounces and declining 26.3% from the 9,500 delivered in March 2015. Year to date, sales at 60,000 ounces are 7.1% higher than the 56,000 ounces sold during the first three months of 2015.
- America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Bullion Coins were muted in March after jumping 105,000 in February with the release of the piece honoring Shawnee National Forest in Illinois. Shawnee bullion sales are the highest since the 2011-dated release commemorating Glacier National Park. The second 2016-dated coin launches in April.
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)|
|Thursday||Last Week||This Week||Jan Sales||Feb Sales||Mar Sales||2016 Sales|
|$50 American Eagle 1 Oz Gold Coins||1,500||6,000||5,000||89,000||67,500||29,000||185,500|
|$25 American Eagle 1/2 Oz Gold Coins||0||0||0||23,000||6,000||1,000||30,000|
|$10 American Eagle 1/4 Oz Gold Coins||0||0||0||36,000||12,000||4,000||52,000|
|$5 American Eagle 1/10 Oz Gold Coins||0||15,000||25,000||145,000||100,000||75,000||320,000|
|$50 American Buffalo 1 Oz Gold Coins||500||1,000||2,000||34,000||19,000||7,000||60,000|
|$1 American Eagle 1 Oz Silver Coins||0||1,000,000||842,500||5,954,500||4,782,000||4,106,000||14,842,500|
|2016 Shawnee 5 Oz Silver Coins||0||0||0||N/A||105,000||0||105,000|