Corn prices were rallying Friday as traders worried that a lack of rain in the producing regions of the U.S. would hurt crop yields and lead to lower supply.

Benchmark contracts were up 2.4% at $4.20 a bushel in recent market action.

"In the Midwest, dry weather is expected for the next month or so, and that's been the catalyst for the upward price move," says Brandon DiTullio, an options trader at Next Source Trading in Orange County, Calif.

Additionally, the fundamental situation for corn is very strong, with high demand coming from buyers wanting to make ethanol-based fuels. Changes in international trade patterns only bolster the strong outlook.

"China is normally an exporter, but this season and last they have been importing" and taking a lot of supply off the market, DiTullio says.

Shares of grain companies

Corn Products

(CPO)

and

Archer Daniels Midland

(ADM) - Get Report

were up 0.1% and 0.8%, respectively.

Meanwhile, the metals complex again saw choppy action on the back of a benign inflation report from the U.S. government.

Prices for benchmark gold futures were gaining $1.20 at $657.10 an ounce, silver was 7 cents higher at $13.24 an ounce, and copper was up a penny at $3.40 a pound in recent action on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Elsewhere, BMO Capital Markets was busy switching ratings in the mining patch.

Gold Fields

(GFI) - Get Report

received an upgrade to outperform from market perform, but

Goldcorp

(GG)

,

Teck Cominco

(TCK)

,

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold

(FCX) - Get Report

and

Century Aluminum

(CENX) - Get Report

were all dropped to market perform from outperform.