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Why Are Silver Sales Soaring?

Published: April 9, 2010
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Source: Zero Hedge

The U.S. Mint just reported another record, but this time it wasn’t for gold. The Mint sold more Silver Eagles in March and in the first quarter of the year than ever before. A total of 9,023,500 American Silver Eagles were purchased in Q110, the highest amount since the coin debuted in 1986.

While this is certainly bullish, there’s something potentially more potent developing in the background. Namely, how this matches up with U.S. silver production. Like gold, the U.S. Mint only manufactures Eagles from domestic production. And U.S. mine production for silver is about 40 million ounces. In other words, we just reached the point where virtually all U.S. silver production is going toward the manufacturing of Silver Eagles.

Yikes.

This is especially explosive when you consider that roughly 40% of all silver is used for industrial applications, 30% for jewelry, 20% for photography and other uses, and only 5% or so for coins and medals.

To be sure, mine production is not the only source of silver. In 2009, approximately 52.9 million ounces were recovered from various sources of scrap. Further, the U.S. imported a net of about 112.5 million ounces last year. (Dependence on foreign oil? How about dependence on foreign silver!) So it’s not like there’s a worry there won’t be enough silver to produce the Eagle you want next month. 

Still, why so much buying? The silver price ended the quarter up 15.5% from its February 4 low – but it was basically flat for the quarter, up a measly 1.9%. We tend to see buyers clamoring for product when the price takes off, so the jump in demand wasn’t due to screaming headlines about soaring prices.

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