Wed, 6 May 12:30:00 GMT
NEW YORK, May 6 (Reuters) - Silver prices are set to rise slightly by the end of 2015, on the expectation that a U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate hike will draw investors back to the market, a precious metals demand specialist said.
"We're going to see a bit of a reassessment, after the Fed raises interest rates, of investor positioning in the silver market," said Andrew Leyland, manager of Precious Metals Demand for Thomson Reuters GFMS, adding that a rate increase is expected "late summer."
"All in all, that will be a positive to the market ... we're going to see a bit of a re-engagement of investors who left the market."
GFMS, which produced the World Silver Survey 2015 for The Silver Institute, released on Wednesday, estimated spot silver prices will average $16.50 an ounce in 2015 and rise above $17 by the end of the year. Prices were trading around $16.50 this week. They ended 2014 at $15.66.
While physical demand fell to 1.07 billion ounces in 2014, down 4.1 percent from 2013, Leyland said it is expected to rise this year.
"We'd expect some pretty solid increases because the prices are low," Leyland said, noting that demand for jewelry, silverware, coins and bars are expected to be strong.
In 2014, popularity was seen in jewelry and silverware markets as fashions targeted bigger and heavier pieces, though China saw a slowdown, according to the survey.
"Excluding China, jewelry consumption increased by 12.9 percent or 19.3 million ounces, providing a potential boon to silver demand should Chinese purchasing rebound," the survey said.
In 2014, silver supply reached the highest since 2010 at 1.06 billion ounces, as mine production is believed to have peaked, while scrap supply dropped by 13 percent to 169 million ounces, the lowest since 1996 and the third straight annual decline.
"We expect what now amounts to a 12-year trend of consecutive growth in global supply to be broken in 2015, with a forecast decrease of up to 4 percent in silver output," the survey stated.
(Editing by Chris Reese)
((Marcy.Nicholson@thomsonreuters.com; +1 646 223 6043; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))
Keywords: PRECIOUS SILVER/GFMS