Silver coins the new hot haven investment?
Investors may be snapping them up as a refuge from continuing economic uncertainty.
Is there a real silver shortage, and are we seeing a modern silver rush? The answers to those questions might depend on whom you listen to.
Last week, the U.S. Mint halted sales of its 2013 American Eagle silver bullion coins.
Reuters quotes an email sent by the Mint to authorized dealers on Thursday saying that sales of coin will resume at the end of the month after inventory has been restocked.
So what’s going on? One expert thinks investors are snapping up the coins as a refuge from continuing economic uncertainty in the U.S.
“It is easy to infer that some element of the fear trade may be at play,” Joni Teves, an analyst at UBS AG, wrote in an emailed report over the weekend. “We view the chunky sales of American Eagle coins more a function of seasonality than anything else. It is important to keep an eye on U.S. coin sales in the coming months to see if volumes remain elevated as the debt ceiling showdown plays out.”
And Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Copenhagen’s Saxo Bank, told the Oman Daily Observer that several international factors are apparently in play when it comes to silver’s current volatility. The current global economic downturn, he says, is fueling investor demand in precious metals. Conversely, improving economic data is increasing worldwide demand for commodities like silver — which has value as both an industrial metal and a financial investment.
A recent report released by the Silver Institute, produced by Thomson Reuters GFMS, projects an estimated 6% rise in demand for industrial silver. And that rise in silver prices, fueled by “a steadily improving economic outlook, strong growth in the automobile sector, and a recovery in the housing and construction industry,” could take industrial silver to a new record high next year.
Some market analysts say that while there’s no physical shortage of silver, those holding silver aren’t interested in selling at current prices.
Seeking Alpha reports that, as of the middle of last week, “silver holdings across all silver exchange-traded funds (ETFs) increased by 59.4 million troy ounces over the last 12 months” — which means current holdings are about 8% of the annual silver supply.
And commodities analysts at Frankfurt’s Commerzbank, according to ResourceInvestor.com, said last week saw “the largest inflows into silver ETFs since December 2010, taking total ETF holdings to a new record of nearly 20,000 tonnes.”