CHICAGO, Oct 12 (Reuters) - CME Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures are weaker on Wednesday in anticipation of lower cash prices by Friday, but bargain hunting lifted contracts from morning low, said traders.
* At 09:54 a.m. CDT (1454 GMT) October was 0.450 cent per pound lower at 97.050 cents, and December 0.600 cent lower at 98.500 cents.
* Early on Wednesday bids for market-ready, or cash, cattle in Texas surfaced at $98 per cwt against $102 asking prices, said feedlot sources. Last week, cash cattle in the U.S. Plains brought $101 to $103.
* Processors are having difficulty moving significant amounts of beef in the face of plentiful pork and chicken, an analyst said.
* He added that some packers will try to match current supplies by slowing down slaughter rates, with at least one plant scheduled to be offline by week's end for maintenance
* There were no new deliveries reported by the CME late on Tuesday, however 6 heifer deliveries that were posted by the exchange on Monday were reissued.
* CME livestock market investors will monitor the U.S. Department of Agriculture's monthly grain reports on Wednesday at 11 a.m. CDT (1600 GMT). The data could have feed implications for cattle and hog producers.
FEEDER CATTLE - October was 1.250 cents per pound lower at 122.875 cents, on follow-through selling and live cattle market weakness.
LEAN HOGS - October, which will expire on Friday, was up 0.725 cent per pound to 52.175 cents. Most-actively traded December was 0.925 cent higher at 43.700 cents.
* CME lean hogs drew support from their discounts to the exchange's hog index for Oct. 10 at 52.82 cents.
* Hog market bulls were encouraged by word late on Tuesday that Smithfield Foods aims to resume operations by Thursday at its Tar Heel, N.C. plant that was idled by Hurricane Matthew.
* "We need that plant up and running as soon as possible to help clean up the glut of hogs that backed up on farms in the area," a trader said.
* He said the plant's potential return to operation stirred short-covering and bargain buying that offset Tuesday's weaker cash and wholesale beef prices.
* Iowa/Minnesota hog weights for the week ended Oct. 8 averaged 281.2 pounds, up 0.2 pound from the prior week and up 0.1 pound from a year ago, based on Wednesday's USDA data. (Reporting by Theopolis Waters in Chicago)