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U.S. Mint to limit purchases of 'America the Beautiful' silver coins

(Reuters) - The U.S. Mint will limit dealers' purchases of its "America the Beautiful" five-ounce silver bullion coins when they go on sale next week, reflecting soaring physical demand after a sharp selloff in precious metals.

The mint has been allocating sales of its more popular American Eagle silver bullion coins to its authorized dealers since late January following a brief suspension.

The surge in demand following gold's plunge to two-year lows and a selloff in silver in mid-April have forced the U.S. Mint, one of the world's leading gold and silver coin producers, to limit precious metal coin sales.

On April 23, the mint said it had suspended sales of its one-tenth ounce American Eagle gold bullion coins as demand depleted the government's inventory.

The mint limits coin sales from time to time as it runs out of coin blanks to meet increases in demand.

When "America the Beautiful" coin sales begin on May 13, the mint will distribute half of its inventory equally between its authorized dealers, and the other half based on each dealer's volume of "America the Beautiful" coin sales in the last two years, it said on Wednesday.

The allocation process will remain in place until the mint can boost inventory to meet demand, it said.

(Reporting by Frank Tang; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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