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Time to sound gold and silver bullion alarm?

American gold and silver buyers seem to have gone on strike in the month of February.

Mint sales of the usually popular gold and silver American Eagle coins are plunging.

Short of a miracle today, the sales declines in both silver and gold are huge.

Silver American Eagles are in worse shape.

The combined sales total in the first two months of the year have plummeted 42 percent.

In 2016 the sales number was 10,736,500 one-ounce coins while the January-February 2017 number is presently 6,217,500.

February results are the primary culprit for the drop..

Sales in January fell short of January 2016, by 14 percent, but this is not an alarming amount as monthly fluctuations go.

However, the true damage to demand was inflicted in February.

Just 1,090,000 silver bullion Eagles have been sold, down 77 percent from February 2016.

The damage is less with gold Eagles, but is still large.

The January-February sales plunge was 31 percent for all four sizes combined.

Usually I look at just the one-ounce gold Eagle coin as a proxy for overall demand, but there is no solace to be taken there.

The drop for one-ounce coins alone is 32 percent.

Most of the weakness is due to February results.

Where gold Eagle demand dropped by 5 percent in January, in February it was down by 70 percent from a year ago.

What gives, when the price of bullion is up a very nicely?

Silver is up 15 percent in 2017.

At the end of 2016 it was $15.936 and this morning on the Kitco website it is $18.34.

Gold is up 9.2 percent in 2017.

It closed 2016 at $1,150 and was $1,256.50 when I checked.

A few blogs back I asked if bullion coin buyers knew something as they appeared to before silver and gold prices plunged last year after their July highs.

I asked the question again.

Short of some sort of miraculous jump in results today, the sales decline in February for gold and silver Eagles is there for all to see.

As Sherlock Holmes said, “The game is afoot.”

We just don’t know what it is.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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