NEW YORK (Reuters) - Uncertainty ahead of Tuesday's U.S. presidential election and a possible U.S. interest rate hike in December have boosted demand for gold and silver in the United States, dealers said.
Gold is a traditional safe-haven market, which investors flock to in times of uncertainty. Several analysts have forecast that gold prices will rally if Republican Donald Trump wins the Tuesday election, while they could rise to a lesser degree or even fall if Democrat Hillary Clinton wins.
"The uncertainty about the election and ... whether they're going to raise rates is causing the buying in gold," said Walter Pehowich, executive vice president in charge of precious metals investments services for Dillon Gage Metals, a major precious metals dealer based in Dallas.
Since mid-September, Dillon Gage's gold sales have jumped around 10 percent and silver sales by 5.7 percent, Pehowich said on Monday. Dillon Gage has not seen a jump in sales like this since September 2015, when prices fell to multiyear lows and gold sales surged 22 percent and silver sales jumped 13 percent from three months prior.
"Prior to mid-September, we had actually witnessed a decline in sales, so the tide has certainly reversed," Pehowich said, adding that Dillon Gage was bracing for market volatility after the election.
Uncertainty about the prospect of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates for the first time in a year next month is also fuelling gold and silver sales, dealers said. By late last week, Fed Funds futures implied that traders saw a 67 percent chance of the Fed raising rates at its December meeting.
"Demand (for gold and silver) is up this week by a factor of 25 percent across the board from where it was last week," said Roy Friedman, president of New York-based Manfra, Tordella & Brookes, on Friday.
"The increase in demand ... stretches from private investors through institutional investors coming to us looking for gold and silver."
At the U.S. Mint, American Eagle gold coin sales jumped 23 percent in October from September, while they more than doubled in silver.
Investors have been actively buying gold and silver all year through exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
Holdings of the eight gold ETFs followed by Reuters reached the highest in more than three years late last month, while the holdings of the six silver ETFs tracked by Reuters reached a record high at the end of October.
(Editing by Jonathan Oatis)