Sales of American Eagle gold and silver coins from the U.S. Mint slowed significantly in February. A total of 21,000 ounces of gold coins were sold, down from January's strong 127,000 ounces. Silver's sales slowed from its incredible 6.107 million ounces sold in January to 1.49 million ounces sold in February.
Below, you will find two charts, one of the February sales of American Eagle silver coins for each year the program has been in existence, and one of the February sales of American Eagle gold coins for each year the program has been in existence:
click to enlarge
In the case of silver, you can see that despite slowing significantly from January's near all-time high, February's 1.49 million ounces sold remains quite elevated by historical standards. In fact, February's sales were the fourth highest ever behind 2009, 2010, and 2011. However, if silver sales by the U.S. Mint are to continue the streak of record breaking years in a row (going for five this year), it will have some catching up to do.
Unlike silver, gold's American Eagle coin sales were truly unimpressive. At just 21,000 ounces, February's number was the 6th worst in the program's history (excluding the year 2000 for which there is no data), only beating out the years 1992, 1995, 1996, 2002, and 2007.
If you are curious how sales are trending year-to-date (YTD) compared to other years, the following two charts should be of interest. They show YTD gold and silver American Eagle sales through the end of February for each year the Mint has sold the coins.
Silver's American Eagle coin sales are currently 7.597 million ounces YTD, trailing only 2011's record-breaking year. Gold's 148,000 ounces sold thus far in 2012 is an above average performance, thanks to January's strong start.
For investors who get their exposure to gold and silver through ETFs rather than the physical metal, I would like to provide a brief update on the performance of four precious metals ETFs, GLD, IAU, SLV, and PSLV. And for investors inclined to seek precious metals exposure through mining companies, I will also include the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX). Below you will find two tables. The first table shows the year-to-date (through February 29) and February performance of each of the aforementioned ETFs. The second table, geared towards the technicians out there, provides the February 29 closing prices of the ETFs as well as the 50-, 100-, and 200-day simple moving averages (as of February 29).
February 29 close
Despite the vicious sell-off on the last day of February, silver is having a blistering run thus far in 2012. However, not all ETFs are created equally. SLV's 24.54% YTD return is crushing PSLV's 11.09%. In terms of gold, GLD and IAU are tracking very close to each other, each up roughly 8% on the year. The gold miners ETF, GDX, is only slightly trailing GLD and IAU year-to-date, unlike last year when GDX underperformed by more than 2,500 basis points.
Disclosure: I am long gold and silver.