CHICAGO -- Block cheese prices on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange took a nosedive this week, averaging slightly above $1.68 per pound for the trading week ended Dec. 12, off 11 cents from the previous week.   Block cheese prices closed at $1.79 per pound Monday and Tuesday and slightly above $1.75 per pound Wednesday, before falling to slightly above $1.57 per pound Thursday and slightly above $1.51 per pound Friday.
 
Prices are down 48 cents compared with this time last year, when block cheese averaged just above $2.16 per pound.   Wheat   Wheat for December delivery closed at $6.04 per bushel Friday on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange. Prices had closed at just above $5.73 per bushel Monday, $5.86 per bushel Tuesday, $6.17 per bushel Wednesday and slightly above $6.24 per bushel on Thursday.
 
Gasoline and diesel fuel   The nationwide average for regular unleaded gasoline was $1.66 per gallon Dec. 15, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service, off 6 cents from $1.72 per gallon this time last week.   Prices are off 22 percent from an average of $2.12 per gallon a month ago and off 45 percent from an average of $3 per gallon this time last year. Mid-range unleaded averaged $1.87 per gallon, while premium unleaded stood at $2.54 per gallon.   The nationwide average price for diesel fuel stood at $2.54 per gallon Dec. 15, off 10 cents from $2.64 per gallon last week. Diesel prices are off 26 percent from an average of $3.42 per gallon this time last year.   Natural gas   Natural gas spot prices decreased at most market locations in the lower 48 states this report week, according to the Energy Information Administration, with all trading regions registering losses with the exception of the Rocky Mountains. On the week, the spot prices at each market location outside the Rockies fell between 2 and 93 cents per million Btu, with the Henry Hub registering a decrease of 80 cents per MMBtu to $5.68.
 
Prices in the Northeast fell to $6.96 per MMBtu for the reporting period ended Dec. 10, off 38 cents from $7.34 on Dec. 3.

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