CHICAGO (Dow Jones)--Chicago Mercantile Exchange hogs settled lower Wednesday on profit-taking, sell stops and technical-oriented selling.

Pork bellies ended limit down and posted new contract lows. Furthermore, live and feeder cattle finished well below bearish trading territory.

Despite late-Tuesday's sizable pork cutout leap, lean hogs began Wednesday morning under pressure after short-term bullish traders pocketed profits following Tuesday's futures rally.

Prospective bulls also ignored much-improved pork packer profit margins and spot-October and nearby-December discounts to CME's hog index. They instead focused on a potential wholesale pork demand slowdown before the Labor Day holiday.

Spot-October and nearby-December selling accelerated after both months fell through key moving average support levels. And, December bore the brunt of selling out of the contract into neighboring October and February on spreads.

Meanwhile, prospective back-month hog buyers kept their distance because of lackluster U.S. stock market trading and flat Chicago Board of Trade corn.

Mostly steady cash hog bids are seen for Thursday as processors string together hogs for near-term slaughters and to accommodate Saturday's projected 85,000-head kill.

Market bulls and bears on Thursday may begin squaring positions in advance of the weekend and before the last trading day of the month Monday.

Pork bellies closed limit down on leftover selling after Tuesday's mostly lower settlement, sell stops and no buyers. Also, CME's weekly belly storage data late Tuesday were considered bearish for futures Wednesday.

Session losses pressed February and March to new contract lows.

October hogs ended 125 points lower at 47.05 cents a pound, and December closed 170 points lower at 45.40 cents.

August bellies settled unch at 49.00 cents after the contract expired Wednesday at 1 p.m. EDT. February, the new spot month, closed down 200 points at 76.45 cents, which is its fresh monthly low.

March bellies also closed 200 points lower at 76.80 cents, which is a new contract low for the contract as well.

Cattle Complex

CME live cattle closed lower on sell stops, spreading out of December into August, back-month bear spreading and cash cattle price trepidation.

Live cattle pulled back from the start as would-be buyers balked at front-month futures' premiums to last week's cattle sales.

Chart-related selling contributed to October pressure, especially after the contract fell through its 10- and 100-day moving average support floor.

And, directionless U.S. financial and equities' trading, along with uninspiring CBOT corn, discouraged far cattle month buyers.

Smaller cattle showlists, rising boxed beef values and profitable beef packer profit margins are behind bullish cash cattle price optimism for this week.

Packer buyers tabled $82 per hundredweight bids for cash-basis cattle while feeders are asking $85 to $86. Fed cattle a week ago moved at $83 to mostly $83.50.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's midday Wednesday boxed beef data showed choice cuts up $0.74 per hundredweight higher, and select items increased $0.27.

By the same token, bearish live cattle market participants are motivated by October's premium to spot-August.

October, a trader said, could become a "headache" when it assumes spot-month position after August expires Aug. 31.

Traders on Thursday will monitor late-Wednesday CME information for possible deliveries before August's expiration.

Also, some traders might settle their accounts ahead of the weekend and in preparation for the final trading day for August on Monday.

Feeder cattle finished lower on spot-August maneuvering on the eve of the contract's Aug. 27 expiration, live cattle's letdown and sell stops.

Back-month feeder cattle premiums to CME's feeder cattle index discouraged potential buyers.

And, spreaders sold September and bought August.

August live cattle closed down 37 points at 85.07 cents a pound, and October finished down 137 points at 87.37 cents.

August feeder cattle ended down 15 points at 99.80 cents, and September closed down 67 points at 99.30 cents.

-By Theopolis Waters; Dow Jones Newswires; 312-341-5778; theopolis.waters@dowjones.com