The April and February Gold futures contracts are very popular on the COMEX. As of last Friday, open interest (OI) in the Apr-2014 contract is 170,323 contracts. There are 11 more weekdays until first notice. In January with 11 more days until first notice, open interest in the Feb-2014 contract was 154,804.
The chart below shows that open interest has been consistently higher during March for the Apr-2014 contract than it was during January for the Feb-2014 contract. The average difference over the last 11 week days is 7%.
Typically, all the excitement is in the last week before first notice. But, if trends hold more gold contracts will settle on the COMEX during April than in February when 3,832 contracts settled. The bullion banks seem to be preparing for more settlement activity, because registered inventory is now 637,593 ounces compared to only 370,137 ounces in mid-January.
On the other hand, total registered and eligible gold inventory has declined to 7,104,660 ounces today from 7,828,052 at the beginning of the year. Eligible gold can easily be registered by creating a warrant, which presumably requires only a few keystrokes.