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Has gold reached bargain basement levels?

Retailers have long known that you don’t price something in whole dollars.

You drop the price by a cent or two and come up with $12.99 or $12.98 rather than $13 when you want a t-shirt to move or a lunch special to be popular.

Are gold buyers proving to be similarly beguiled by such price points?

Perhaps so.

Gold has fallen under $1,300 for the first time since December.

The nice round number was breached on May 15, just eight business days ago.

Presto chango, the month of May has gone from just another sluggish gold American Eagle sales month to a strong one at the U.S. Mint.

As of May 16, the one-ounce gold American Eagle sales number reported in the Mint Statistics pages I prepared last week was 2,000.

Checking the Mint’s website this morning, I see the figure is now 8,500.

That’s a 350 percent increase.

May now jumps ahead of February, March and April in terms of one-ounce coins sold.

In those months, the numbers were 5,000, 2,500, and 4,000 one-ounce coins, respectively.

The January number, of course, is far higher at 36,000.

But January, as always, is a special case when everyone scrambles for the new date.

May also showed strength because gold quarter-ounce Eagles were sold. Some 12,000 of the quarter ouncers went to the Mint’s Authorized Purchasers.

This is the first month since January when any have been sold.

On last week’s Mint Statistics pages, the tenth-ounce gold Eagle number was 5,000 pieces. It has now doubled to 10,000.

Before you make up your mind about round number pricing points, consider what has happened in the same period for the silver Eagle.

The sales number rose by 230,000 to stand at 380,000 so far in May.

However, the 380,000 number still marks it out as the lowest sales month of the year.

Silver Eagles performed no similar vaulting over the February, March and April totals as gold Eagles did.

Silver Eagle sales for those months were 942,500, 915,000, and 915,000, respectively.

Obviously, there is no sign of revival of silver Eagle demand in the May total.

However, silver bullion’s price has not sunk through a nice round number.

This morning, it is $16.32. Last week, I reported $16.297 for May 16.

So, gold apparently reached an enticing price point.

Silver did not.

Retailers’ wisdom apparently applies to bullion coins, too.

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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