February hogs closed sharply lower on the session yesterday, as a higher than normal premium to the cash market may have triggered a sizable amount of long liquidation selling. April and June hogs closed moderately lower on the session yesterday after first posting new contract highs. The jump in pork values plus news of strong exports has been seen as providing underlying support to the market today. Speculative long liquidation selling was thought to have been active yesterday, but the strong pork market could cause packers to bid up cash into next week. Cash is called steady to $0.50 lower for today. Pork cutout values released after the close yesterday came in at $83.79, up $1.61 from Wednesday, up from $78.14 the previous week and the highest pork trade since October 5th. Loins were up $4.69 to $97.99, and the surge in loins has suggested to some traders that export demand to Asia has firmed up. The jump in average weights, however, was seen as a potentially negative force for the market. Weekly average weights for Iowa-Southern Minnesota as of January 8th came in at 275.8 pounds, up from 274.7 the previous week and up from 269.0 pounds last year. This is well above normal, and suggests to some traders that there could be a large number of hogs backed-up in the country. With a large premium of futures to the cash market, producers may have little incentive to stay current with their marketings. The CME Lean Hog Index as of January 11 came in at 73.26, up 33 cents from the previous session and up from 72.39 the week before. This leaves February hogs at a premium of near 700 points to the cash. Monthly pork exports for November were released yesterday at an unusually large 406.15 million pounds, which was up 6.7% from the previous year and the highest monthly total since the spring of 2008. November exports represented 19.8% of total production. The USDA believes 2011 exports will be up 9.1% from last year. The estimated hog slaughter came in at 424,000 head yesterday. This brings the total for the week so far to 1.607 million head, down from 1.678 million head last week at this time and down from 1.698 million head a year ago.