Lean hogs closed near unchanged yesterday, but well above the lows after opening sharply lower for the day. The market was seen as coming under pressure from building concerns that the world economy will suffer from soaring energy prices due to the unrest in the North Africa/Middle East region. The large premium of futures to the cash market has been seen as keeping commercial interest lacking. Short-term cash fundamentals are still looking positive for many traders, who feel that the cash market is likely to remain in a steady uptrend going into the spring. Pork cutout values released after the close yesterday came in at $92.47, up 69 cents from Tuesday and up from $89.05 the previous week. This is the highest pork value since August 30th. The record high for cutout values came in at $96.74 on August 24th of 2010. Exports now represent nearly 20% of total production, but even without the export market, pork supply looks to tighten into the spring. Pork production typically declines about 250 million pounds from the fourth to the first quarters. This year's pork production is expected to drop 472 million pounds, according to the USDA, and would be the largest drop going back to at least 1990. Production is also expected to decline from the 1st to the 2nd quarters. The forecast for this year is for a decline of 305 million pounds compared to an average drop of around 200 million. Weekly average weights for Iowa/Minnesota came in at 273.1 pounds, which was up from 272.9 pounds the previous week and 268.4 pounds last year. The CME Lean Hog Index as of February 21st came in at 82.90, down 34 cents from the previous session and down from 85.65 the week before. The estimated hog slaughter came in at 421,000 head yesterday. This brings the total for the week so far to 1.237 million head, down from 1.242 million last week at this time as well as down from 1.273 million head a year ago.