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Mint suspends sales of 2013 American Eagle silver coins

| Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, 5:36 p.m.

NEW YORK —The U.S. Mint has suspended sales of its 2013 American Eagle silver bullion coins after running out of stock as a result of soaring investor demand for the newly minted coins in the first two weeks of the year.

“It is easy to infer that some element of the fear trade may be at play,” Joni Teves, an analyst at UBS AG in London, wrote on Saturday in an emailed report. “We view the chunky sales of American Eagle coins more a function of seasonality than anything else. It is important to keep an eye on U.S. coin sales in the coming months to see if volumes remain elevated as the debt ceiling showdown plays out.”

Sales to authorized dealers will resume on or about the week of Jan. 28 after the Mint has replenished its inventory, it wrote in an email to authorized dealers on Thursday. The coins are produced at the Mint's West Point, N.Y., facility.

While it is typical for collectors to snap up newly stamped coins, interest this year has ballooned because of investors seeking refuge from U.S. economic uncertainty.

“With silver, you can benefit from both sides: its safe-haven status and the fact that it's also an industrial commodity,” said Frederique Dubrion, the Geneva-based president and chief investment officer of Blue Star Advisors SA, which manages metals and energy assets. “Given some positive leading indicators, especially in the U.S., investors would probably prefer turning to silver rather than to gold.”

Silver Eagle sales through Jan. 15 exceeded 5 million ounces and were on track to surpass the all-time monthly high of 6.1 million ounces, set in January 2012.

Coin sales rose in the final months of 2012 as investors protected their nest eggs from a feared recession. Many economists predicted an economic downturn would occur if Congress and the White House did not act to stop pending tax increases and automatic spending cuts known as the “fiscal cliff.”

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