Are buyers losing interest in the silver American Eagle?
Are they tired of chasing dreams of silver riches only to be handed losses of 20 percent like last year?
On the surface, you might respond with, “Are you kidding? January 2015 sales numbers beat last year’s.”
This is true.
In 2015 collectors, investors and purchasers of any other description carried away 5,530,000 silver Eagles.
This compares to 4,775,000 sold last year.
The increase is a solid 755,000 pieces, or almost 16 percent.
A simple January to January sales comparison looks pleasing. But it is no longer January. February numbers look a little more troubling.
We are now in the middle of the month. There are two weeks of sales left to go.
There is a normal drop in sales in February after all the excitement of a new date, early release slabs and a new investment year wears off.
So far in February 2015 1,462,500 silver Eagles have been sold.
In the entire month of February 2014 3,750,000 were sold.
Will buyers grab another 2,287,500 between now and the close of business Feb. 27 simply to achieve a monthly sales tie with 2014?
At the present sales pace, it won’t happen.
A new Greek crisis could change this outlook.
But absent a crisis, monthly sales are on track to fall short of last year.
More likely, the sales pace will continue at roughly the same level as the first half of the month with another 1,462,500 vended.
If this is what occurs, the 2015 two-month sales total will fall short of last year’s January-February sum of 8,525,000.
February 2015 needs sales of another 1,532,500 coins for the two-month total to precisely match last year’s.
While matching last year’s sales pace means sales numbers are still large, they are not advancing.
That loss of momentum eventually works into silver’s price.
Currently, with silver at $17.22, the metal is up almost 11 percent since Dec. 31.
But as large as that gain is, it is already down a buck or so from last month’s high point and recent market swings show that the current gain can be erased in as little as a couple of trading days.
This is a trading pattern that is similar to last year’s and we know how badly last year ended.
Is this conclusion too pessimistic?
The Mint’s recent statement that it will not strike silver Eagle bullion coins at the San Francisco Mint because West Point Mint can handle the task of supplying the market also reinforces the idea that absent a world crisis of some kind silver Eagles won’t be going gangbusters in 2015.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."