Cooler weather boosts natural gas prices


Average block cheese prices continued to drop last week on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, coming in at an average of $1.63, down from $1.75 the previous week.

Prices were $1.65 Monday and Tuesday and $1.62 Wednesday through Friday. 

Just two weeks ago, cheese was averaging more than $2.

According to analysts, the cheese market crash is long overdue. The abundance of domestic dairy supplies should have pushed prices down sooner, but the earthquake and tsunami in Japan finally triggered the dramatic drop, said John Barone, president of Market Vision in Fairfield, N.J.
Cheese prices matched last year’s average of $1.63 per pound.


Wheat prices jumped more than 30 cents last week on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, coming in at an average of $8.71, up from the previous week’s average of $8.37.

Wheat closed at $8.69 Monday, $8.66 Tuesday, $8.59 Wednesday, $8.83 Thursday and $8.81 Friday. Wheat prices got as high as $9.64 in January.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

Today’s nationwide average for regular unleaded gasoline is $3.58, up 4 cents from the previous week’s $3.54, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. Prices remain up from a month ago, when they were $3.33, and from this time last year, when consumers were paying $2.80 at the pump.

Mid-range unleaded currently averages $3.72, while premium unleaded Monday was just above $3.85.

The nationwide average for diesel fuel is $3.96, a slight uptick from $3.93 per gallon last week. Diesel prices also remain up from $3.67 a month ago, and from $2.94 a year ago.

Natural Gas

Colder weather moved into major population centers this report week, increasing demand related to space heating for much of the country. Prices moved higher at all trading locations in the lower 48 States, with the biggest increases occurring in the Northeast. During the report week, the Henry Hub spot price increased $0.33 to $4.18 per million Btu (MMBtu). Last week’s spot price was $3.85 per million Btu.

Pizza company stocks

Shares in Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed at $52.12, a bump from its previous week’s closing of $51. The company hit its all-time 52-week high earlier this month at $52.58. Yum! traded at a 52-week low of $37.47 in March 2010.

Domino’s finished last week at $18.10, the company’s 52-week high. The previous week's closing was $17.72. Domino’s traded as low as $10.99 in June 2010.

Papa John's stock closed at $30.25 Friday, an increase from its previous week’s $30.03. PZZA’s 52-week high was two weeks ago at $30.55. The company traded at a 52-week low of $22.78 in July 2010.

Shares in CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed at $37.53 Friday, a big boost from its previous week’s closing of $36.17. CEC traded at a 52-week high of $41.79 in April 2010, and a 52-week low of $30.84 on Aug. 13, 2010.

California Pizza Kitchen closed at $16.56 Friday, up from its previous week’s closing of $15.94. CPKI traded as high as $22.92 in April 2010, and as low as $13.19 in July 2010.

Pizza Inn turned in at an even $2.00 Friday, which is the same as its previous week’s closing. PZZI traded at a 52-week high of $2.20 in April 2010, and a 52-week low of $1.73 in March 2010.


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