New York--The average per-ounce price of silver is expected to drop 19 percent next year, the manager of precious metals for Thomson Reuters GFMS said following the release of the company’s interim report on the metal.

Andrew Leyland said $20.42 an ounce is the predicted average price for silver in 2014, down from $24.24, the metal’s predicted average for 2013.

He said there are a number of factors driving silver’s lower price, chief among them the strengthening U.S. dollar and an improving economy plying investors away from the safe-haven investments of gold and silver to equities and bonds.

In 2013, the falling price of silver helped to pump up demand for the metal across the board, with jewelry demand particularly strong, GFMS’ interim silver market review for 2013 shows.

According to the review, which is a summary of the firm’s provisional supply and demand forecasts for the remainder of the year, demand for silver jewelry will rise 6 percent, from 182.8 million ounces to 193 million ounces, in 2013.

The review notes that demand for silver jewelry is particularly strong in emerging countries such as India, where government regulations designed to curb gold imports have consumers buying silver instead of gold.

Interestingly, demand for silverware is expected to grow at the same pace, rising 6 percent from 44.9 million ounces to 47.6 million ounces.

Demand for silverware has fallen in recent years due to consumers’ declining interest in formal tableware. Leyland said the increase in demand for silverware is “primarily not a phenomenon in the U.S.,” but in price-sensitive markets such as India and China. Consumers there saw the prices drop, so they stocked up, he said.

Leyland said he does not yet have a prediction for silver demand in 2014, though he notes that what they see is a scenario of “two steps forward, one step back” for silver jewelry.

The price decline is positive, but the price of gold is falling too--coming down from about $1,700 earlier this year to about $1,300 an ounce now--meaning that demand is not increasing as much as one might expect as some designers and fabricators go back to gold. 

He said he expects more metal-heavy silver pieces to be popular as the silver price continues to drop. According to the review, the per-ounce price of silver is down 21 percent year-over-year in the first 10 months of 2013, averaging $24.51 an ounce.

On the supply side, worldwide silver supply is expected to be essentially flat, 1.15 billion ounces in 2012 and 1.16 billion ounces in 2013, with rising mine production offset by an 8 percent decline in scrap supply.

GFMS said it expects mine production to total 814.6 million ounces this year, compared with 787.0 million ounces in 2012, an increase of 4 percent. The production growth primarily will come from mines in the U.S., Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

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