A recovery in loin prices late yesterday and ideas that supply will tighten ahead helped to support hog futures during overnight trading. In addition, pork exports hit a record high in November (both in total and to China), and Chinese buyers are back from the Lunar New year holiday this week. April hogs closed slightly lower on the session yesterday but well above the early lows. Cash hogs traded mostly $1.00 lower as packers appear to be cutting back on their slaughter pace for hope of improving margins. Some traders feel that this cut-back will be a short-term negative demand force, however, as packers are able to buy all the hogs they needed at lower prices due to the reduced slaughter pace. Packer margins are widely thought to be deep in the red after persistent weakness in pork product last week and a recovery in cash hog values. Loin prices were down to $91.41 late last week from $98.71 one week previous. The CME Lean Hog Index as of January 26th came in at 87.35, up 59 cents from the previous session and up from 85.27 the week before. The estimated hog slaughter came in at 406,000 head yesterday, which was below trade expectations. This was down from 427,000 head last week but up from 381,000 a year ago as this time. Pork cutout values released after the close yesterday came in at $83.91, up 65 cents from Friday but down from $85.27 the previous week.
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