August hogs closed at a record high for the nearby futures as a surge in cash markets, a run up in pork cut-out values to record highs for the seventh session in a row and a sharp drop in weights were all seen as supportive factors for the market. The market fell sharply early in the session as outside market forces turned weak and traders backed away from commodity markets. The early weakness attracted significant stop loss selling which added to the selling pressures and drove October hogs all the way to 90.05 from a high of 94.00 on Tuesday. Many traders await a normal increase for pork production into the fall, but a sharp drop in average weights may suggest lower, not higher production for the short-term. There also appears to be significant interest in US pork from key importing nations, especially China. China produces nearly five times more pork then the US, and the country is in the process of expanding and modernizing the industry. Pork is a key component for inflation measures in China, and government officials are doing all they can to slow that nation's inflation growth. As a result, China may be temporarily importing pork to hold prices down to fight inflation, as a relatively small amount of pork in China can equate to a huge volume of exports for the US. Pork cutout values released after the close yesterday came in at $108.31, up $2.08 from Tuesday and up from $102.34 the previous week. This is a new record high and compares with $92.00 last year at this time and $63.00 in 2009. Weekly average weights for Iowa-Southern Minnesota as of July 30th came in at 260.9 pounds, down from 263.7 pounds the previous week and down from 267 pounds last year. This is the lowest weekly average weight since September 6th of 2008, as weights seasonally decline into late August/early September. October hogs were trading at a 1330 point discount to the cash market at their lows yesterday morning, as compared with a 5-year average basis of 482 points during this time of the year. The CME Lean Hog Index as of August 1st came in at 103.34, up 1.08 from the previous session and up from 98.67 the week before. The estimated hog slaughter came in at 405,000 head yesterday. This brings the total for the week so far to 1.153 million head, down from 1.206 million head last week at this time but up from 1.151 million head a year ago.
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