April hogs closed 70 points higher on the session Friday, but down 207 for the week. The market saw a move to the lowest level since January 26th, but a more positive tone for the economy and strength in other agricultural markets were thought to have supported higher prices early in the session. Cash hogs were seen as having a steady tone, but the surge higher in pork cut-out values last week to their highest level since August had many traders projecting that cash markets could see further advances this week. The focus of attention for April hogs over the short-term may be on the large premium of futures to the cash market, and how this might clash with market expectations for a steady rise in cash markets during the near future. Declining supplies, solid exports and stronger packer profit margins are widely expected to provide positive support for the cash market. Some traders have become suspect of a stronger export outlook due to the large rise of pork in cold storage during January, which suggests that exports might be slowing. Positively received comments from the USDA Outlook conference regarding pork exports for 2011 that are generally expected to reach new record high levels were also seen as a positive factor for the market. USDA officials believe that 2011 pork exports could reach 4.68 billion pounds, up 11% from 2010 and above the previous record year of 2008. The CME Lean Hog Index as of February 23rd came in at 83.33, down 33 cents from the previous session and down from 84.49 the week before. The estimated hog slaughter came in at 394,000 head Friday and 64,000 head for Saturday. Weekly hog slaughter came in at 2.108 million head which was down 2.4% from last year. However, higher average weights were thought to have pushed pork production for the week up to 438.2 million pounds, unchanged from last year. Pork cutout values released after the close Friday came in at $92.08, up 41 cents from Thursday and up from $90.39 the previous week. Exports now represent nearly 20% of total production, but even without the export market, pork supply is widely expected to tighten into the spring.