LONDON – The UK Royal Mint’s gold sales jumped by a fifth in the first three months of the year, according to figures obtained under freedom of information legislation.
Following month-on-month declines in the first two months, March gold sales jumped 263% in volume-terms, according to the information sent by email. Gold sold and stored by the mint under its Signature Gold programme, which allows the partial ownership of bars held in its vault, jumped 178% in March, compared with a year earlier.
Demand for bars and coins, particularly in Europe, is being driven by negative interest rate policies as well as worries over political instability ahead of votes in France, Germany and negotiations for Britain to leave the European Union, according to Metals Focus analyst Junlu Liang.
“We’re still seeing safe-haven demand in Europe, with both macro uncertainty and political uncertainty,” Liang said by phone from London. “You have negative rates in both real and nominal terms, plus we had Brexit last year and elections fast approaching in France.”
The increase in purchases follows a sharp gain in prices, with spot metal increasing in each of the first three months, the longest run since 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Trading at $1 287.12/oz, it has risen 12% this year, according to Bloomberg generic pricing.