Perth Mint’s ‘animal spirits’ defy gold’s decline

Perth Mint

The animal spirits, literally and figuratively, may be returning to the gold market.

Koalas, kangaroos and kookaburras look set to drive sales of Perth Mint's limited edition bullion coins which are emblazoned with the iconic Australian wildlife. The coins underscore physical demand for gold that's expected to remain robust despite fears of a wind-down in asset purchases by the U.S. Federal Reserve as soon as this month, which may trigger another wave of selling in the precious metals market.

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Initial orders for Perth Mint's 2014 Bullion Coin Program have been strong, with 30,000 one-ounce gold coins and 300,000 one-ounce silver coins booked in advance before the official sale this month, Sales and Marketing Director, Ron Currie told CNBC after returning from Frankfurt where the Mint released the latest designs last month to an audience of financiers and investors.

Additionally, Perth Mint has received expressions of interest for nearly 2 million gold and silver coins featuring the Chinese Lunar Year of the Horse, above the 1.4 million expressions of interest for gold and silver Chinese Lunar Year of the Snake coins around this time last year, Currie said. "We don't increase the mintage which makes them extremely hot. The Lunar product sells out every year…it's very popular."

If September's figures are strong, they may help reverse August's decline when sales of Perth Mint's gold coins and bars dropped by nearly half from July.

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Sales of the U.S. Mint's American Eagles fared no better in August. Demand for the investible gold coins plunged 77 percent on month in August to the lowest level in six years, U.S. Mint data showed on Aug. 30. Total sales of American Eagle gold bullion coins for investors were just 11,500 ounces last month, down from 39,000 in August 2012 and 50,500 ounces in July, according to the U.S. Mint's website.

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Despite a rough August, the Perth Mint is confident demand will bounce back this month, Fed taper or not. "Whether it's going up or going down, people are still talking about gold," Currie said. "It's a lot more mainstream."