April hogs traded slightly higher early yesterday and surged to sharply higher on the day into the mid-session. A general idea that record high cattle prices might spark better demand for pork helped to support prices, as the early rally lifted the market up to the highest price levels since December 8th. Weekly average weights for Iowa-Southern Minnesota as of February 18th came in at 276.0 pounds, up from 275.9 pounds the previous week and up from 273.1 pounds last year. Weights typically move lower at this time of the year but it is hard to determine if producers are current with their marketings due to the mild Midwest weather. January 31st cold storage stocks for pork came in at 584.4 million pounds, which was up 8% from last year and well above trade expectations. This was also up 21% from last month and pork stocks normally increase by 12% in January so the report news is considered to be negative. Slaughter came in a bit below expectations for the second day in a row at 421,000 head yesterday. This brings the total for the week so far to 1.219 million head, down from 1.263 million head last week at this time and down from 1.235 million head a year ago. The CME Lean Hog Index as of February 20th came in at 86.95, down 1 cent from the previous session and down from 87.36 the week before. Pork cutout values released after the close yesterday came in at $84.93, down $1.14 from Tuesday and down from $88.21 the previous week. Hams and bellies were both moderately lower.
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