NEW YORK, Nov 30 (Reuters) - The U.S. Mint's American Eagle silver coins sales are set to rise to a record above 4 million ounces in November, as a European sovereign debt crisis and economic uncertainty prompted individual investors to bet on silver and gold as safe havens.
Total sales of the popular one-ounce silver American Eagles rose to 4.2 million coins in November, the highest monthly sales since their introduction in 1986. In October 3.2 million one-ounce Eagles were sold, the Mint's web site showed on Tuesday.
The figure does not include sales from Nov. 30 but is already well above the monthly average of about 3 million coins this year.
Year-to-date sales of the 99.9-percent pure silver Eagles totaled 33 million coins, an all-time high, surpassing the 29 million in the entire year of 2009.
"The underlying, basic reasons for the silver market's rise are really gold-oriented, but the speculative element of silver continues to be a big driver," said Bill O'Neill, partner of New Jersey-based commodities firm LOGIC Advisors.
O'Neill said that a well established retail coin-dealer network helped increase sales of the silver Eagles. He called silver a "speculative playground" and does not recommend trading it due to high volatility.
Silver, gold and platinum group metals have benefited from the fiscal crises in Greece, Ireland that could also spread to other European nations, lingering worries about economic growth and inflation concerns.
Year to date, silver was up nearly 70 percent and gold was almost 30 percent higher. On Tuesday, silver rose 4 percent to $28.20 an ounce and gold climbed over 1 percent to $1,385.
In May, precious metals coin and bar dealers reported that investors were turning to gold and silver coins to protect their nest eggs from market turmoil.
For gold American Eagles, November sales to date totaled 112,500 ounces, slightly below the levels in October and September and this year's monthly average of about 140,000 ounces.
November's volume was sharply below a 2010 high of 452,000 ounces set in June. (Editing by Alden Bentley)
US Mint's silver Eagle coins year-to-date sales at all-time high of 33 million coins
This is great news for the hard currency advocates like I am, and hence, I am happy to see so much attraction into precious metals. I just hope that people realize that there is risk associated with speculation and that precious metals markets are not a one-way street.