June 30, 2017 / 8:28 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 2-U.S. Mint's 1st-half sales of American Eagle gold coins weakest since 2007

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    By Marcy Nicholson
    NEW YORK, June 30 (Reuters) - U.S. Mint American Eagle gold
coin sales in the first half of 2017 were the lowest for this
period in a decade, while sales of silver in the period were the
weakest since 2008, government data showed on Friday.
    U.S. Mint sales of American Eagle gold coins totaled 6,000
ounces in June, down 92 percent from June 2016 and bringing the
tally for the first half of the year to 192,500 ounces.
    Sales of American Eagle silver coins totaled 986,000 ounces
in June, down 65 percent from a year ago. This brought sales for
the first six months of 2017 to 12.2 million ounces, the weakest
for the period since 2008.
    Spot gold prices        rose around 8 percent in the first
half of the year, in sharp contrast to a 25 percent rally in the
same period of 2016 that spurred strong interest in the physical
market.
    Prices of spot silver        were also relatively lackluster
the first half of this year, rising around 4 percent. This
compares with a 35 percent surge in the first six months of
2016.
    "U.S. investors seem to be interested in equities since
every day seems like a bull market," said Terry Hanlon,
president of Dillon Gage Metals.
    "The news is positive for stocks and mostly negative for
metals; therefore, money is not going into the purchase of U.S.
Mint American Eagles."
    The S&P 500        and the Dow Jones Industrial Average
       both set fresh all-time highs earlier this month as
investors regained confidence in the U.S. economy after upbeat
comments from Federal Reserve officials.
    Hanlon also noted that larger investors and institutions
were seeking products that carry lower premiums, such as 1
kilogram (32 troy oz) gold bars.
    "There is the concern over the Federal Open Market Committee
policy and the increasing interest rates scenario in the United
States, and that's stemmed some of the interest for investors to
buy physical precious metals," said Roy Friedman, president of
Manfra, Tordella and Brookes.
    The Fed raised U.S. interest rates earlier this month,
marking the fourth such move as part of a normalization of
monetary policy that began in December 2015.             
    In late 2016, after Donald Trump's surprise victory as U.S.
president, many traditional bullion holders in the United States
held off buying gold as a safe haven as they were optimistic
after voting for him.                 

 (Editing by G Crosse)
  

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