Silver lining in precious metals' rout catches out coin mints

Wed Nov 5, 2014 3:59am EST
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* Maple Leaf silver coins hard to get -retailers

* Royal Canadian Mint on allocation from September

* Supply times increase, premiums likely to jump

By A. Ananthalakshmi and Frank Tang

SINGAPORE/NEW YORK, Nov 5 (Reuters) - A tumble in silver prices to four-year lows has triggered a global scramble by consumers to purchase silver coins and bars, as the spread between the price of the metal and gold reaches its widest in five years.

Retailers and distributors in Asia and the United States said they were struggling to get supplies of items such as Canadian Maple Leaf silver coins.

While demand for silver has been strong over the last few months, retailers say buying interest soared in recent days as the metal fell towards its lowest since 2010, along with gold.

Demand for silver coins and bars accounted for more than a fifth of total demand in 2013, according to a report by the Silver Institute. A sustained jump in demand should support silver prices, currently at just over $15 an ounce.

The price of silver is currently around 74 times cheaper than gold - the biggest spread since early 2009. Due to its greater afford ability, silver sales tend to outstrip gold in volume terms and attract a lot more retail buyers.   Continued...