Pain continues at the pump

Cheese

Average block cheese prices increased 1 cent last week on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, coming in at an average of $1.33.

Block cheese prices closed at $1.32 Monday and Tuesday, $1.33 on Wednesday, and $1.34 Thursday and Friday.

Cheese prices remain down from last year, when they averaged $1.63 per pound.

Wheat

Wheat prices hit $8.84 last week on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, before dropping slightly to close at $8.81 on Dec. 31. This is another sharp rise from the previous Friday, when wheat closed at $8.68.

Wheat closed at $8.66 Dec. 27, $8.84 Dec. 28, $8.83 Dec. 29, $8.72 Dec. 30 and $8.81 Dec. 31.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

The nationwide average for regular unleaded gasoline was $3.07 on Monday, up from the previous week’s average of $3.04, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.

Prices also are up from a month ago, when they were $2.92, and from this time last year, when consumers were paying $2.66 at the pump.

Mid-range unleaded currently averages $3.26, while premium unleaded on Monday was just under $3.38.

The nationwide average for diesel fuel stood above $3.31 per gallon Monday, up slightly from last week’s $3.29. Diesel prices are up 11 cents from $3.20 a month ago, and from $2.82 a year ago.

Natural Gas

Extreme cold weather conditions moving across the country boosted demand for space heating this report week, which is unchanged from the previous week. Spot prices nonetheless decreased in most markets (with the exception of several in the Northeast), likely influenced by storage for winter usage remaining near historical highs and very strong current supplies. During the report week, the Henry Hub spot price decreased 24 cents to $4.22 per million Btu (MMBtu).

Pizza company stocks

Shares in Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed at $49.05 Dec. 31, down from its $49.41 closing Dec. 23. Yum! traded at an all-time 52-week high of $52.47 in November 2010, and a 52-week low of $32.49 in February 2010.

Domino’s closed at $15.95 Dec. 31, up slightly from its $15.90 closing Dec. 23. DPZ traded as high as $16.32 in April 2010, and as low as $7.57 in December 2009.

Papa John's stock closed at $27.70 Dec. 31, up 17 cents from its $27.53 closing Dec. 23. PZZA traded at a 52-week high of $28.84 in May 2010, and a 52-week low of $21.44 in December 2009.

Shares in CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed at $38.83 Dec. 31, down sharply from its $39.64 closing Dec. 23. CEC traded at a 52-week high of $41.79 in April 2010, and a 52-week low of $28.48 in November 2009.

California Pizza Kitchen dropped to $17.28 Dec. 31 from its $17.48 closing Dec. 23. CPKI traded as high as $22.92 in April 2010, and as low as $12.29 in December 2009.

Pizza Inn closed the year out at $1.95, up from $1.89 Dec. 23. PZZI traded at a 52-week high of $2.20 in April 2010, and a 52-week low of $1.50 in December 2009.

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