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Massive silver price drop triggers a 'rush to buy' in India - INTL FCStone

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(Kitco News) A recent plunge in silver to 11-year lows has awoken strong Indian demand for the precious metal as low prices present a not-to-miss buying opportunity, according to INTL FCStone.

Earlier this week, silver prices tumbled below $12 an ounce with May silver futures last trading at $12.250, down 1.96% on the day.

“Silver has continued to slither lower, hit by the dual adverse effects of lower gold and a debilitating economic outlook,” said INTL FCStone’s head of market analysis for EMEA and Asia regions Rhona O’Connell. “The dramatic fall in silver to eleven-year lows (compare gold, at three-month lows) has launched a rush to buy silver in India, the world’s largest silver consumer.”

The data comes from the firm’s Dubai office, which is watching the physical silver demand in India.

Last year’s rise in gold and silver prices in local currency has led to a slump in physical demand for gold and silver.

“There has been very little interest in either gold or silver for months in India, which means there is bound to be pent-up demand,” O’Connell told Kitco News on Wednesday.   

And with the recent drop in prices, even the COVID-19 panic doesn’t seem to be stopping shoppers from taking advantage of the decade-low silver prices.

“Lots of demand very recently for silver … Sometimes, something is just too good to miss,” O’Connell noted. “Gold price, even with the weaker rupee, are at a three-month low while silver is at an 11-year low. It brought people out of the woodwork.”

India is the largest consumer of silver, she pointed out, noting that it is responsible for about 20% of the world’s jewelry, metals, and silverware market combined.

Silver is also seeing renewed retail demand out of the West, especially when it comes to silver coins, she added.

The U.S. Mint announced last week that it temporarily sold out of American Eagle Silver Eagle Bullion coins.

“Our rate of sale in just the first part of March exceeds 300% of what was sold last month,” the Mint said in a press release. “West Point is working diligently to produce additional inventory and once additional inventory is produced, we will again begin allocations.”

Data from the U.S. Mint shows that it has sold 2.32 million one-ounce silver coins so far this month, up significantly from February sales of 650,000 coins.

Future silver price direction is tied directly gold’s performance, O’Connell said.

“Silver’s fortunes remain clouded and an improvement and … any sustainable recovery in price, given that supply is largely price-inelastic, will likely be reliant on a recovery in gold,” she noted. “Market conditions are a perfect storm for silver as it is dragged lower by weaker gold at the same time as silver is essentially an industrial metal in surplus. Combine these two factors and silver is under considerable pressure.”

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