April 2 (Reuters) - Sales in March of U.S. Mint American Eagle gold fell to their lowest for the month, and silver coins dropped to their lowest in 11 years, government data showed. Sales of U.S. Mint American Eagle gold coins fell to their slowest March sales ever, according to records dating back to 2007, while silver coin sales for March fell to their lowest in 11 years, government data showed. Sales of American Eagle gold coins totaled 3,500 ounces in March, down 36.3 percent from 5,500 coins in the previous month, according to U.S. Mint data released on March 30. Gold coin sales plummeted 83.3 percent from the year prior, when 21,000 ounces were sold. However, American Eagle gold coin sales were down 4.3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2017, when 70,500 coins were sold. Yet sales slid 42 percent from the first quarter of 2017, when 116,000 coins were sold.
During March, spot gold prices traded within a tight
range of $1,300-$1,360 per ounce as investors looked to other assets, though equities remained volatile. In addition to nearly no interest from the growing group of millennial investors, "recent market volatility has also dampened coin investors' interest as markets went up as escalators and came down like elevators and cash conservations ensued," said George Gero, managing director of RBC Wealth Management in New York. Cryptocurrencies also distracted from gold buying last month, said Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors in San Antonio. "That seems to be taking the incremental gold buyer away." The U.S. Mint sold 915,000 ounces of American Eagle silver coins in March, the data showed, down 2.9 percent from 942,500 ounces in the month before. Silver coin sales were 43.3 percent lower than the year prior, when 1.6 million ounces were sold, according to the data. March American Eagle silver coin sales dropped 36 percent from the first quarter of 2017, when close to 8 million ounces were sold. However, silver coin sales during the first quarter of the year more than doubled from the same period in 2017, when 2.2 million coins were sold. February sales of U.S. Mint American Eagle gold coins were the slowest for the month in 11 years, while February silver coin sales were the lowest since 2008, according to records dating back to 2007.
(Reporting by Renita D. Young Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)