April hogs closed 22 higher on the session Friday, and up 70 points on the week. Cash markets were mostly steady while pork cut-out values have been mostly choppy. Open interest was up more than 20,000 contracts during the month of February. Many traders believe that demand is on the rise for US pork due to a shift away from near record high beef prices, but this shift may still in the preliminary stage. Traders will be monitoring the pork cut-out closely over the near-term to see if the market can push higher to rationalize the recent trade near the high end of a 3-month trading range. The CME Lean Hog Index as of February 29th came in at 87.55, down 8 cents from the previous session but up from 87.54 the week before. The estimated hog slaughter came in at 405,000 head Friday and 59,000 head for Saturday. This brought the total for last week to 2.150 million head, up from 2.120 million head the previous week and up from 2.139 million head a year ago. Pork cutout values released after the close Friday came in at $85.13, up 27 cents from Thursday but down from $85.77 the previous week.