February and April hogs pushed moderately lower on the session early along with most other commodity markets, but turned around and made a strong rally from the lows to trade moderately higher for the day. Another jump in pork values late Wednesday was thought to have encouraged better demand from packers for live inventory, which in turn supported cash markets yesterday morning with some locations up $0.50 after expectations of a steady cash trade. Ideas that cold weather could allow average weights to decline from near record highs this week was also widely seen as somewhat supportive. Many traders continue to believe that once hog production begins to slide, a significant rally in the cash market will occur. Actual slaughter for the week ending January 18th was up 3.69% from last year and this lifted pork production up to 455.2 million pounds. Actual pork production has been higher than year-ago levels for every week since mid-October. Weekly average weights for Iowa/Minnesota for the week ending January 8th came in at 275.8 pounds, as compared with 274.7 pounds the previous week and 269.0 pounds last year. Large premiums of futures to cash have been seen as encouraging producers to hold off on selling hogs that are ready for market. The CME Lean Hog Index as of January 17 came in at 74.75, up 70 cents from the previous session and up from 73.26 the week before. This leaves February hogs at a premium of 550 points to the cash market which is higher than normal for this time of the year. The estimated hog slaughter came in at 419,000 head yesterday. This brings the total for the week so far to 1.621 million head, up from 1.607 million head last week at this time but down from 1.626 million head a year ago. Pork cutout values released after the close yesterday came in at $85.95, down 6 cents from Wednesday but up from $83.79 the previous week.