Lean hog futures also fell sharply as markets sold off across the board.

October hog futures fell 0.92 cent, or 1%, to 88.35 cents a pound in trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. CME December hogs fell 2.1 cents, or 2.5%, to 82 cents a pound.

The pork complex fell sharply despite some near-term fundamentals, including continued strong demand from meat packers, who are enjoying lower costs and healthy profit margins. Wholesale pork prices have been strong recently as exports continue to soar compared to last year.

The latest Dow Jones Newswires pork packer margin index was plus $6.96 per head, compared with plus $6.38 the previous day.

The USDA's pork carcass composite value, a measure of wholesale prices, on Wednesday was up 21 cents at $96.05 a hundred pounds.

Cash hog bids were reported mostly steady as some plants were still buying supplies to complete their slaughter schedules for the weekend and early next week.

Some packers hold cautious views for cash prices by the middle of next week, however, as recent large slaughters--at 4% to 5% above year ago--along with further seasonal expansion in supplies, could weigh on the market.

Projections for the weekend slaughter are mostly around 165,000 head and the week's total in the area of 2.285 million, up nearly 4% from a year ago.

The terminal markets traded from mostly steady to $2 a hundredweight higher with top prices from $60 to $65 a hundred pounds on a live basis.