Gold rush sparks run on American Eagle coin

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 April, 2013, 6:16am

The US Mint ran out of its smallest American Eagle gold coin after demand surged following the biggest drop in futures in three decades.

Sales of the coins weighing a 10th of an ounce were suspended after demand more than doubled last year's, the Mint said.

Sales of American Eagles this month almost tripled last month's, according to its website.

Shoppers from India to China and Japan joined consumers in the US and Australia in the rush to buy jewellery and coins after futures fell 13 per cent in the two days to April 15. Indian buyers flocked to stores and banks for ornaments, coins and bars as purchases from the Perth Mint in Australia doubled and retail sales across China tripled.

"This week has been very busy for us," said Michael Kramer, the president of New York-based MTB, a dealer authorised to buy coins directly from the Mint. "We do not yet anticipate suspension" of heavier coins.

The Mint also sells 22-carat American Eagles of 1 ounce, half an ounce and a quarter ounce.

"The one-ounce gold bullion coins are the most popular," said Michael White, a Mint spokesman.

A rush by Indian consumers for bracelets and coins was prompting jewellers to offer premiums on imports as traders and banks ran out of stockpiles, a trade group said yesterday.

Jewellers in big cities are paying as much as 800 rupees (HK$115) per 10 grams while retailers in some remote areas are paying about 1,200 rupees per 10 grams as a premium, according to Haresh Soni, the chairman of the All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation.

The volume of gold products sold jumped 150 per cent in Hong Kong and Macau during the April 13 weekend compared with the weekend before, according to Dennis Lau, the director of sales operations at Chow Sang Sang Holdings International.

Retail sales tripled across China on April 15 and 16, the China Gold Association reported.

Japanese consumers are poised to become net buyers of gold for the first time in eight years as the yen's decline and looming inflation drive them to seek refuge in bullion, according to Standard Bank.

Futures on the Comex in New York rose 1 per cent yesterday to US$1,423.20 an ounce, about US$100 above the US$1,321.50 reached on April 16, which was the lowest level in more than two years. Prices have plunged 26 per cent from the record US$1,923.70 in September 2011.