Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle closed lower Friday on sell stops, bear spreading and low-priced corn.

Pork bellies also finished in bearish territory. Most feeder cattle months ended up slightly. Lean hogs settled generally firm.

Live cattle teetered at first after more selling from futures' fall Thursday seeped into Friday. Cash cattle prices weren't a factor in Friday's futures trade because packer buyers and feeders concluded their business Thursday.

The bulk of cash-basis cattle this week moved at $87 per hundredweight, compared with mainly $85.50 to $86 sales last week.

In addition, the recent sluggish wholesale beef buying pace and unprofitable beef packer profit margins were bearish enough factors to sideline potential market bulls.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's midday Friday boxed beef data showed choice cuts slipped another 24 cents per hundredweight, and select items decreased 36 cents.

The latest operating margin index for beef packers was minus $12.00 per head, compared with plus $1.55 the previous day, as calculated by HedgersEdge.com.

Spot-October's open below its 20-day moving average was the catalyst that eventually sank the contract to the 300-point daily price limit after spot-month expiration Friday at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT).

October also at one point dropped to its lowest level in 11 months after it ignited sell stops in thin trading volume.

Nearby-December was on the ropes throughout the morning due to spreading out of the contract into deferred months, which set off sell stops. Downward momentum pressed December below 40-and-20-day moving average support levels, which tipped off funds who also sold.

Meanwhile, U.S. equities' meltdown, Chicago Board of Trade corn's stumble and the U.S. dollar's rally discouraged potential distant-month cattle buyers.

Cattle market participants Monday will start a new month of trading with December spending its first full day as the new lead contract. December Friday closed at a sizable discount to this week's cash results.

Traders are apprehensive about their approach to December whose expiration is two months away which makes it less subject to near-term market fundamentals.

Also, December will be watched closely because some of the front-month bear spreading that occurred Friday was tied to pre-roll activity.

The roll refers to the "Goldman roll," which involves funds moving some of their December long positions into February. The first of five days for the roll period will officially begin Nov. 6 and is tied to the Standard & Poor's GSCI Index.

October live cattle settled 300 points lower at 81.65 cents a pound. December closed 60 points lower at 85.67 cents. February ended down 22 points at 86.85 cents.

Most feeder cattle contracts barely ended in positive territory and featured short covering, buy stops and month's-end position squaring.

November feeder cattle settled up 20 points at 94.80 cents, and January closed up 5 points at 95.07 cents.

Pork Complex


CME hogs ended generally firm on spreading into back months out of forward contracts linked to end-of-month positioning and early "Goldman roll" activity.

Most hog months dipped initially after those who were recently long the market pocketed profits. October and December were technically overbought and at bearish premiums to CME's hog index.

Also, word that the Chinese aim to readmit previously banned U.S. pork, which launched CME hogs to three-month highs Thursday, was relegated to "wait-and-see" status Friday.

Hog contracts appeared to operate "in their own little world" Friday, seemingly untouched by what is normally market-moving fundamental and outside-market stimuli.

"You had a higher dollar, the cutout was up pretty good Thursday night, corn fell apart and the stock market took back what it gave" Thursday, a brokerage firm's hog trader said. "It was kind of strange that we didn't follow any of that, but anything can happen at the end of the month."

Cash hog prices are seen steady to possibly firm Monday due to expectations for tighter hog supplies moving forward. Processors also want to take advantage of profitable margins and wholesale pork's recent demand resurgence.

Furthermore, traders are looking ahead to the official kickoff of the "Goldman roll" next Friday.

December hogs ended 50 points lower at 56.70 cents a pound. February finished up 42 points at 63.60 cents and peaked at a July 20 top. April ended 55 points higher at 66.80 cents.

February pork bellies closed 150 points lower at 89.30 cents on profit taking, sell stops and the filling of Thursday's chart gap.

Other belly months were unquoted.

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