The hog market pushed sharply higher during yesterday's session, with April futures reaching a new contract high. Higher cash markets, expectations for declining supply, a continued uptrend in cash prices and another jump in pork cut-out values were all widely seen as positive factors supporting the market. A jump in ham prices was thought to have lifted pork cut-out values to the highest level since September. Many traders also see increased exports to South Korea in the next few months as a supportive factor for the market. Pork values continued to advance late yesterday and the cash hog trend remain higher. South Korea buying has been widely thought to have driven the market sharply higher, but there will be little or no confirmation of the sales until mid-March when January exports will be released. Other traders see the outlook for declining production ahead as a reason to suspect a continued strong uptrend in the cash market. Actual hog slaughter for the week ending January 15th was reported at 2.127 million head which was down 2.14% from last year. However, pork production for the same week came in at 444.6 million pounds, up 0.5% from last year. China is planning to expand imports of agricultural commodities according to the Minister of Commerce and mentioned that they are currently considering expanding stockpiles for meat, sugar and other necessities. The CME Lean Hog Index as of January 25 came in at 77.14, up 42 cents from the previous session and up from 75.45 the week before. This leaves February hogs at a premium of near 680 points which is much higher than normal for this time of the year. Pork cutout values, released after the close yesterday, came in at $87.69, up 21 cents from Wednesday and up from $85.95 the previous week. This is the highest pork value since September 30th. The estimated hog slaughter came in at 419,000 head yesterday. This brings the total for the week so far to 1.687 million head, up from 1.621 million last week at this time and up from 1.619 million a year ago.