Gold Falls in May, Silver Rises; US Mint Gold Bullion Sales Surge

Gold Bars Close-up
Gold futures stand alone among major precious metals with a loss in May

Gold futures ended slightly lower Thursday, the final trading day in May, and they registered their second straight monthly decline. Other precious metals scored at least modest advances in May with silver and palladium extending their monthly wins to two in a row.

After reaching a more than two-week high on Wednesday, gold for August delivery on Thursday declined $1.80, or 0.1%, to settle at $1,304.70 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

"The primary headwind for gold is the trend for a stronger U.S. dollar," MarketWatch quoted Michael Armbruster, managing partner at Altavest.

"Geopolitical turmoil around the globe may keep gold anchored, but gold’s near-term prospects are likely sideways to lower given our expectations for a much stronger dollar," Armbruster added.

Gold futures traded 1.1% lower in May after slipping 0.6% in April. The yellow metal posted its lowest settlement of the year on May 17 at $1,289.40 an ounce. Gold prices are now 0.4% lower than their 2017 finish at $1,309.30 an ounce.

Meanwhile, silver for July delivery shed 8.6 cents, or 0.5%, to end at $16.458 an ounce. Silver futures edged up 0.4% this month after climbing 0.8% last month. However, silver prices are 4% lower on the year to date.

In PGM futures on Thursday and for May:

  • July platinum rose $1.60, or 0.2%, to $910.10 an ounce, for a 0.6% monthly increase.

  • Palladium for September delivery added $6.70, or 0.7%, to $981.70 an ounce, bumping up its gain in May to 2.2%.

The two metals are lower on the year with losses of 3% for platinum and 7.5% for palladium.

London Precious Metals Prices

London precious metals prices ended higher on Thursday and mostly higher for the month. In comparing their levels from Wednesday PM to Thursday PM:

  • Gold rose $4.65, or 0.4%, to $1,305.35 an ounce.
  • Silver added 18 cents, or 1.1%, to $16.55 an ounce.
  • Platinum gained $1, or 0.1%, to $907 an ounce.
  • Palladium rose $7, or 0.7%, to $986 an ounce.

In LBMA results for May, gold declined 0.6% while the others logged increases reaching 1% for silver, 0.2% for platinum, and 2.4% for palladium.

US Mint Bullion Sales in 2018

Demand for United States Mint bullion coin was mixed in May from April with gold sales sharply higher and silver coins drastically lower. Sales of the U.S. Mint’s gold coins were the highest since January when the new 2018-dated editions launches. In headline comparisons across all U.S. Mint bullion products:

  • American Eagle gold coins in May totaled to 24,000 ounces, soaring 433.3% from the 4,500 ounces delivered in April and jumping 54.8% from May 2017 when sales reached 15,500 ounces. Still, sales for the year at 96,000 ounces are 48.8% lower than the 187,500 ounces sold during the first five months of last year.

  • American Eagle silver coins advanced to 380,000 ounces in May for the lowest monthly total since September. The tally is down 58.5% from the 915,000 ounces moved in the previous month and 84.5% lower than the 2,455,000 ounces delivered in May of last year. 2018 Silver Eagle sales at 6,387,500 are 43.2% lower than the 11,247,500 coins sold through the same time in 2017.

  • American Buffalo gold coins accumulated in May to 16,500 ounces, marking gains of 725% from the 2,000 ounces sold in April and 230% from the 5,000 ounces sold in May 2017. Year to date sales at 47,000 ounces are 26.6% lower than the 64,000 ounces moved during the January to May period of last year.

  • American Eagle platinum coins reached 20,000 ounces in their February release month, matching the amount sold in years 2016 and 2017. The U.S. Mint sold another 10,000 ounces in May for a year-to-date total of 30,000 ounces.

  • May sales of America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Bullion Coins ended flat. Two of the five 2018-dated coins have been released and they have combined sales of 60,000 units or 300,000 ounces. Last year’s first two 5-ounce bullion coins registered combined sales through May of 46,200 coins for 231,000 ounces.

Below is a sales breakdown of U.S. Mint bullion products with columns listing the number of coins sold during varying periods.

US Mint Bullion Sales (# of coins)
Thursday Last Week This Week April May 2018 Sales
$100 American Eagle 1 Oz Platinum Coin 0 0 0 0 10,000 30,000
$50 American Eagle 1 Oz Gold Coin 0 8,000 6,000 4,000 18,500 66,000
$25 American Eagle 1/2 Oz Gold Coin 0 0 0 0 0 16,000
$10 American Eagle 1/4 Oz Gold Coin 0 6,000 0 0 18,000 44,000
$5 American Eagle 1/10 Oz Gold Coin 0 5,000 0 5,000 10,000 110,000
$50 American Buffalo 1 Oz Gold Coin 0 6,500 0 2,000 16,500 47,000
$1 American Eagle 1 Oz Silver Coin 0 230,000 0 915,000 380,000 6,387,500
Pictured Rocks 5 Oz Silver Coin 0 0 0 0 0 30,000
Apostle Islands 5 Oz Silver Coin 0 0 0 30,000 0 30,000


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