Just as the premium between physical and paper precious metals prices was starting to fade a little, the US Mint has decided to temporally halt all production at its West Point facility in New York because of the risk to employees from COVID-19.
The timing of the decision to halt supply could not come at a worse time with demand for both gold and silver coins soaring near record highs...
And demand for physical gold - to fulfill/back futures - is soaring...
Bloomberg reports that the Mint had previously redirected some silver bullion production to its Philadelphia facility, Michael White, a spokesman, said in an email.
"My commitment to the health and safety of the Mint workforce is unwavering and continues to be my highest priority”, said Mint Director David J. Ryder.
“These are challenging and unprecedented times, and decisions on Mint operations are made with the best interests of Mint employees first and foremost.”
During the temporary suspension of operations at the West Point facility, it will continue to make American Eagle and America the Beautiful silver bullion coins available to its network of authorized purchasers.
American Eagle and American Buffalo gold coins will not be available, White said.
“The Mint will resume production once it is deemed prudent to do so,” it said in the statement.
This will dramatically exacerbate the physical market stress as, according to the latest sale data, the Mint has sold 56,500 one-ounce American Eagle Gold Bullion coins in the first two weeks of April. Sales for the month are up 465% compared to all of April 2019.
As Everett Millman, a precious-metals specialist at Gainesville Coins in Florida, warns,
“The timing is awful, it’s going to exacerbate the supply shortage” in the coin market when demand is soaring.
Premiums for gold coins are at 5%-10% over spot gold, compared with less than 1% in normal circumstances, Millman said.