CHICAGO (Dow Jones)--Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle closed mostly firm Thursday on spreaders who bought deferred contracts and sold October. Buy stops and U.S. stocks' return above the 10000 mark provided added live cattle support.

Live cattle slipped at first on profit-taking and uneasiness about how prices for remaining cash cattle would fare after packers paid up for supplies earlier this week.

Cash-basis cattle so far this week brought $84 to $85 per hundredweight, compared with up to $84 last week.

Market bears initially took a swipe at spot-October and nearby-December overbought Relative Strength Index conditions.

Futures, however, snapped back after front-month cattle tested Wednesday's lows and spreaders migrated into back months out of forward contracts. The move along with sell stops pulled down October but pumped up other months.

Bullish and bearish traders on Friday are expected to square positions before the weekend while waiting for word about prices for unsold cattle. Market participants will also watch for potential deliveries that may be tendered by the exchange late Thursday.

October live cattle settled 65 points lower at 85.95 cents a pound. December closed up 30 points at 87.37 cents. February finished up 32 points at 87.75 cents.

Feeder cattle closed mixed on spreading into November out of spot-October and January. Spot-month expiration is Oct. 29.

October feeder cattle settled down 5 points at 94.45 cents, and November closed up 17 points at 96.40 cents.


Pork Complex

CME hogs settled steady to firm on short-covering, buy stops and spreading into February out of December.

Hog futures wilted initially following late-Wednesday's pork cutout price decline and profit-taking. Sellers were driven by December and February overbought technical situations.

A few speculative longs continue to cling to the sidelines until December's expiration comes in closer proximity to current market fundamentals.

Nonetheless, pockets of cash hog price firmness and recent hog weight declines spawned buying into futures' breaks.

Subsequent spot-December and nearby-February gains at one point floated October above the 10-day moving average resistance obstacle. Later buying kept February above its 10-day moving average support level.

Meanwhile, U.S. equities' rally from overnight lows generated back-month hog buying interest amid extremely light volume.

Traders look ahead to the federal government's monthly cold storage report that will be released on Thursday at 3 p.m. EDT.

Analysts' average projection for U.S. belly stocks for September is 38.9 million pounds based on a narrow 38 million to 39.84 million pound range. Ham inventory last month was estimated at 137.6 million pounds. And total amount of pork in the nation's warehouses for September was projected at around 528.3 million pounds.

Cash hog prices are seen mostly steady on Friday as processors prepare for a weekend slaughter estimated around 190,000 head.

And traders on Friday will likely square positions before the weekend.

December hogs ended up 5 points at 53.72 cents a pound, and February finished up 12 points at 60.72 cents.

February pork bellies closed 200 points higher at 83.50 cents on buy stops and chart-related purchases after the contract blew through key technical resistance impediments.

Other belly contracts were unquoted.

Belly traders also await Thursday's U.S. Department of Agriculture monthly cold storage report.


-By Theopolis Waters, Dow Jones Newswires; 312-559-4965; theopolis.waters@dowjones.com