FARGO - With the stock market roiled by coronavirus fears and oil markets in freefall with major oil producers in a price war, people in the Fargo Moorhead area—like elsewhere in the country—were turning their money into gold, silver, platinum and palladium.

Jack Seaman, owner of MinDak Gold Exchange at 4955 17th Ave. S., said he’s seen an uptick in sales of gold and silver coins and bars.

“There’s no doubt about it. We’re definitely seeing an increase in traffic with the stock market basically collapsing before our very eyes. People, I think, are very motivated to put their money into a different asset class,” Seaman said Monday, March 9.

“We’re selling a lot of gold bars and we’re selling a lot of silver, as well, because the price on silver is relatively low compared to gold (and other metal),” he said.

One ounce of gold, the most common weight for it to be bought or sold by consumers, can sell now for $1,690 or more, depending on whether the buyer wants a bar or U.S., Canadian, Austrian, Swiss or another country’s coins. Seaman said the Gold Eagle is the most popular U.S. coin right now.

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“Gold has historically been viewed as a safe haven asset and when times get tough, people around the world flock to gold. It’s been money for 5,000 years and it will probably be money for another 5,000 years,” Seaman said.

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Gold prices hit a more than seven-year high Monday as a stock market, thanks to concerns about the economic effects of the growing coronavirus outbreak.

Business Insider reported that gold nearly hit $1,703 an ounce, the highest it’s been since late 2012, before it closed at just over $1,676 in a volatile trading day. Some analysts told Business Insider that gold could top the $2,000 per ounce mark this year.

Chris Olson, CEO of Treasure Island Coins and Precious Metals, 1429 42nd St. S., said interest in gold has risen over the last 18 months.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty. It’s a safe haven asset. People are getting into cash and gold, and silver and palladium, too,” Seaman said. For example, palladium traded at its high point on Monday at $2,557 on the open market.

“The reasons? There are so many. Most of the people that invest in gold do so on a pretty regular basis. People see it as a form of wealth insurance. They want to diversify their holdings.

"A lot of people saw this move in the stock market coming,” Olson said.

People are also selling their gold and other precious metals, too.

“A lot of people are taking profits. Gold is holding up pretty well, despite what the market is doing today,” Olson said. Governments and their central banks are also buying gold, too, often for the same reasons as any other investor.

“There’s a prepper mentality to gold as well, too. You’re preparing for the worst. The nice thing about gold, you can turn it back into the financial system” once the economy recovers, Olson said. “There’s not many financial assets that exist like that in the world. It makes for good barter.

It really is an essential element of every survival kit. Even World War II pilots carried a gold sovereign on them.

Olson said that if you do decide to invest in precious metals, go to reputable dealers.

“You want to know what you’re getting into,” Olson said.

Northern Plains Coins, 2425 Main Ave., a steady string of customers was wandering into the small shop over the noon hour.

“Most of it is about concern for the future, the coronavirus” and how that will affect business, owner Mark Kingsley said. Kingley said some people are also worried about how weak overseas economies and disputes over international trade agreements will ultimately affect the U.S. economy.

“I just think that people should focus on it as a safety, almost like an insurance concept. Gold and silver are a great way to hedge your bets against falling stock prices, or falling bond prices or falling oil prices,” Seaman said.