NEW YORK -- The U.S. 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 in 2013 from a year earlier, the Mint said Tuesday. Total sales of American Eagles in April have almost tripled from a month earlier, according to its website.
Shoppers from India to China and Japan joined consumers in the U.S. and Australia in the rush to buy jewelry and coins after futures slumped 13 percent in two days through 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," Michael Kramer, the president of New York-based MTB Inc., a dealer authorized to purchase coins directly from the Mint. "We do not yet anticipate suspension" of heavier coins, he said. The Mint also sells 22-karat American Eagles of 1 ounce, half an ounce and a quarter of an ounce.
"The 1-ounce gold bullion coins are the most popular," Michael White, a Mint spokesman, said in the email.
A rush by Indian consumers for bracelets and coins is prompting jewelers to offer premiums on imports as traders and banks run out of stockpiles, a trade group said yesterday. Jewelers in big cities are paying as much as 800 rupees ($14.73) per 10 grams (0.02 pounds) while retailers in some remote areas are paying about 1,200 rupees per 10 grams as a premium, according to Haresh Soni, chairman of the All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation.
Overseas purchases may jump 36 percent to 305 metric tons in the three months ending June from 225 tons a year earlier, Mohit Kamboj, president of the Bombay Bullion Association Ltd., said last week. Imports may climb as much as 20 percent this month from year earlier, he said.
Volumes of gold products sold jumped 150 percent in Hong Kong and Macau during the April 13 weekend compared with the weekend before, according to Dennis Lau, director of sales operations at Chow Sang Sang Holdings International., last week. Retail sales tripled across China on April 15-16, 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.