UPDATE 2-Silver lining in precious metals rout catches out mints

Wed Nov 5, 2014 2:47pm 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 (Adds U.S. Mint sold out of silver coins in paragraph 2)

By A. Ananthalakshmi

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 metal has reached its cheapest level relative to gold in more than five years.

The U.S. Mint said on Wednesday it has temporarily sold out of its American Eagle silver bullion coins after recent "tremendous" demand, while 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.

Demand for silver has been strong over the past few months, but retailers say buying interest has soared in recent days as the metal has slid towards its lowest since 2010.

Silver fell to 4-1/2-year lows at $15.13 an ounce on Wednesday, down 21 percent this year so far.

"We have seen a significant uptake in demand for silver in recent days, both for coins and for 1,000 ounce bars," Mark O'Byrne, research director of bullion dealer GoldCore, said.   Continued...