Silver Demand Softens on Industrial Swoon

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- While gold dominates negative headlines, a new report on silver is out to remind investors that silver hasn't posted a great run either.

Silver prices, which often move in correlation with gold prices, suffered in 2012 from a setback in global economic growth as industrial demand softened and physical demand waned due to restrained buying in Asia, according to the Silver Institute's 2013 world silver survey.

The report, published Wednesday morning, comes a week after COMEX gold saw its largest single-day dollar drop on record and as silver has dropped 13.4% since its close on April 12.

Despite the recent dent in prices and a skid in 2012, Neil Meader of Thomson Reuters GFMS, said he believes the white metal will gap up in the second half of this year.

"We could very easily see a month or two of volatility as nerves calm and the market consolidates from the slump that we saw in the last couple of weeks, but I think with that under our belt and as soon as we get some more positive news coming through we could see a lift," Meader, head of precious metals research and forecasts at Thomson Reuters GFMS, said on a phone interview from London.

The Silver Institute report showed that demand for silver's industrial fabrication dropped to 465.9 million ounces from 487.8 million ounces in 2011. Demand for jewelry fabrication dropped to 185.6 million ounces from the prior year's 186.5 million ounces.

Overall silver fabrication demand dropped to 846.8 million ounces in 2012 from 907.1 million ounces a year ago.

The report found that mine production grew to 787 million ounces, up 30 million ounces from last year, due to by-product output from the lead and zinc sectors.

Net government selling slowed in 2012 to 7.4 million ounces, which is far below the 44.2 million ounces that governments sold in 2010.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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