February hogs closed sharply lower on the session yesterday and fell to the lowest price levels since November 11th. A recovery in ham prices may indicate that demand levels are not as bad as many traders had feared. The shift to a lower production base into the first quarter from the fourth quarter has been widely seen as a positive force for the cash market into early next year. Ideas that China has backed away from imports temporarily was thought to be pressuring the market recently. Cash hogs traded steady to $1.00 lower and the market also received news of record high hog weights this week and a weaker tone to the pork product market late Wednesday. However, pork cutout values released after the close yesterday came in at $89.92, up $1.21 from Wednesday and up from $89.30 the previous week. This is the highest trade since November 29th. Iowa/Minnesota direct trade for the morning came in at an average price of $82.48, which was down $0.98 from Wednesday. The CME Lean Hog Index as of December 6th came in at 86.34, up 8 cents from the previous session and up from 84.97 the week before. The estimated hog slaughter came in at 429,000 head yesterday. This brings the total for the week so far to 1.721 million head, down from 1.725 million head last week at this time but up from 1.700 million head a year ago.