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Bullion Eagle sales repeating 2017 pattern?

Yesterday I thought for a moment that gold was going to dip right back to the point it started the year.

This morning, the Kitco price quote was $1,320 when I checked.

This is still slightly higher than the $1,306.30 close in 2017.

Gold’s gain for the year is $13.70. Don’t spend it all on lunch.

Putting it in percentage terms, gold is up 1.04876 percent.

I put a lot of digits to the right of the decimal point because just writing 1 percent seems somehow like I am minimizing the gain.

Sales of gold American Eagle bullion coins continue their rapid fall.

So far in February, the Mint has sold 5,000 one-ounce Eagles and 5,000 tenth-ounce coins.

This compares to 21,000 one-ounce coins in February 2017 and 30,000 tenth ouncers.

Remember, February 2017 was a weak month. It was when it was beginning to dawn on us that Eagle buyers were going on strike.

In terms of ounces sold, the February 2018 monthly number is 5,500 compared to 27,500 ounces last year.

In 2017, the Mint sold some quarter ounces and half ounces during the month. Not this year.

In percentage terms, the gold sales decline is 80 percent.

For those who want to find a sliver of hope, or silver of hope in this case, they can look at the silver American Eagles.

February sales are down here, also.

However, the 942,500 sold compares to 1,215,000 vended in the same month in 2017.

This decline is just 22 percent.

Feel better?

Before you say yes, remember that silver this morning is trading at $16.45, down 3.6 percent so far in 2018.

If 2018 progresses as 2017 did, it will only get worse.

It is hard to believe, but during the first two months of 2017, the Mint sold more than a third of all the silver Eagles it was going to sell in the entire year.

The final 2017 number ended up at 18,065,500, 2.84 times the January-February sales total.

With just 4,177,500 silver Eagles sold so far in 2018, this works out to 11,898,876 for the entire year – a dismal number and one that would extend the sales downtrend to three years in a row.

I know there are 10 months left of 2018 to change the facts. There are even a few hours left to change the monthly numbers.

But in reviewing what I was writing a year ago, it is amazing to see how well the sales pie was already baked early in the year.

Bullion coin buyers seem to be losing confidence in precious metals.

Or they are running out of money to spend.

Those who want to own bullion may already have it, and no newcomers are joining them.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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