Tropical storms push natural gas prices up last week


Average block cheese prices remained steady at $1.79 last week on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, matching the previous two weeks' average.

Cheese prices closed at $1.79 Tuesday through Thursday and dropped to $1.78 Friday.


Wheat prices dipped slightly to $9.57 last week on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, from $9.62 the week before.

Wheat closed at $9.71 Tuesday, $9.64 Wednesday, $9.48 Thursday and $9.45 Friday.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

Monday's nationwide average for regular unleaded gasoline was $3.64, down slightly from $3.66 a week ago, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.

Prices are back up from $3.60 a month ago, and up significantly from this time last year, when consumers were paying $2.69 at the pump.

Mid-range unleaded is down a penny to $3.78 from $3.79 the previous week, while today's premium unleaded price is $3.91, down from $3.92 last week.

The nationwide average for diesel fuel is $3.91, equal to last week's average. Although the price of diesel fuel is close to last month's $3.90, it is nearly a dollar more than this time last year when it cost $2.95.

Natural Gas

In the wake of Hurricane Irene (later downgraded to Tropical Storm Irene), Tropical Depression Lee moved into the Gulf, causing production shut-ins and across the board price increases last Thursday, Sept. 1. The Henry Hub spot price saw a 21-cent increase, jumping from $3.97 per million Btu (MMBtu) on Wednesday, Aug. 31 to $4.18 per MMBtu the following day. The impacts of the slow-moving storm were overshadowed, however, by significantly cooler weather, and prices declined steadily from their Aug. 31 high over the next few days, closing at $3.93 per MMBtu on Tuesday. The threat of a new storm in the Gulf, Tropical Storm Nate, likely caused prices to rally slightly, with the Henry Hub spot price closing out the report week yesterday at $3.96 per MMBtu.

Pizza company stocks

Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed last week at $51.53, down more than a dollar from $52.65 the previous week. The company hit its 52-week high about a month ago when shares were $56.72. Yum! traded at a 52-week low of $43.85 in September 2010.

Domino's closed last Friday at $26.87, up a penny from $26.86 the previous week, which was the company's 52-week high. Shares remain substantially higher over this time last year when the company traded at $13.19 in September 2010.

Papa John's closed Friday at $28.07, a drop from $28.72 the previous week. The company hit its 52-week high earlier this summer at $34.12 and traded at a 52-week low of $25.10 in September 2010.

CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, fell to $27.93 last week, from $28.96 the previous week. The company hit its 52-week high of $41.75 in July. CEC hit its 52-week low of $33.18 in October 2010.

Pizza Inn stocks dipped to $2.87 Friday, an 8-cent drop from $2.95 the previous week. Pizza Inn hit its 52-week high earlier this summer when it finished at $3.26. It traded as low as $1.79 in September 2010.

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Photo provided by todbaker.

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