Gas hits $4 mark in many cities


Average block cheese prices rose to an average of $1.63 last week on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, up from $1.60 the previous week.

Prices were $1.62 Monday, $1.63 Tuesday, $1.64 Wednesday, $1.65 Thursday and $1.64 Friday. Prices match last year's average of $1.63 per pound.


Wheat prices dipped down to $9.26 last week on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, from $9.52 the previous week.

Wheat closed at $9.50 Monday, $9.43 Tuesday, $9.23 Wednesday, $9.06 Thursday and $9.10 Friday.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded gasoline is $3.96, up a penny from $3.95 the previous week, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.

A handful of cities are dealing with $4-plus gas prices, including Chicago which currently has the country's highest average of $4.50, according to the Lundberg Survey.

Prices remain up from a month ago, when they were $3.75, and are up more than a dollar from this time last year, when consumers were paying $2.91 at the pump.

Mid-range unleaded closed the week at $4.10, while premium unleaded Monday was $4.23.

The nationwide average for diesel fuel is $4.15, even with last week's price. Diesel prices also remain up from $4.03 a month ago, and from $3.12 a year ago.

Continued unrest in the Middle East and the looming busy driving season are forcing gas prices up as they continue to inch closer to the all-time high of $4.11 set in the summer of 2008.

Natural Gas

Wholesale natural gas prices at market locations in the lower 48 States moved higher this week as cold weather persisted in some consuming regions. Prices also increased at the beginning of the report week as the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released data (on April 28) showing the refill of storage inventories following last winter has proceeded slower than in recent years. During the report week (April 27-May 4), the Henry Hub spot price increased $0.24 to $4.59 per million Btu (MMBtu).

Pizza company stocks

Shares in Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed at $53.64 Friday, even from the week before and a penny less than two week's ago, when the company hit its all-time high. Yum! traded at a 52-week low of $38.53 in July 2010.

Domino's finished last week at $21.94, a big jump from $18.57 the previous week. DPZ got a boost from a strong earnings report that included an 8.3 percent increase in international sales. Domino's traded as low as $10.99 in June 2010.

Papa John's stock got a boost Friday after a favorable earnings report, finishing at $31.74, up from $30.06 the previous week. The company hit its 52-week high, $31.75, in mid-April. Papa John's 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 $39.16 Friday, also after turning in a strong earnings report. CEC traded as high as $40.90 in December 2010, and a 52-week low of $30.44 in August 2010.

California Pizza Kitchen closed at $15.88 Friday, down slightly from an even $16 the previous week. CPKI traded as high as $20.79 in May 2010 and as low as $13.19 in July 2010.

Pizza Inn turned in at $2.25 Friday, up from $2.07 the previous week and the company's 52-week high. PZZI hit its 52-week low of $1.77 in May 2010.

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