Improved U.S. crop conditions cause lower wheat prices

Cheese

Average block cheese prices rose slightly last week on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, averaging $1.59. The previous week's average was $1.56, which was the lowest price since early April.

Cheese prices closed at $1.56 Tuesday, $1.58 Wednesday, $1.61 Thursday and Friday. The markets were closed Monday owing to the New Year's holiday.

Wheat

Wheat prices fell to $8.25 last week on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, down from $8.57 the previous week.

Wheat prices dropped as U.S. crop conditions improved and as concerns that the European debt crisis may worsen prompted selling by some investors, according to Bloomberg.

Wheat closed at $8.44 Tuesday, $8.39 Wednesday, $8.18 Thursday and $8.01 Friday.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

Gas prices are up 10 cents over the past three weeks due to higher crude oil prices.

Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded fuel is $3.37, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. A week ago, regular was at $3.27.

Prices also are up from a month ago when the average was $3.28; and are up nearly 30 cents from this time last year when consumers were paying $3.08 at the pump.

Mid-range unleaded is $3.51, up from $3.42 last week, while today's premium unleaded price is $3.64, an increase from $3.56.

Diesel fuel prices are averaging $3.85, from $3.81 last week. The price of diesel fuel is down from $3.91 a month ago, and up from $3.33 a year ago.

Natural gas

Despite some significant weather-related spikes in the Northeast toward the end of the week, natural gas prices at most trading locations across the country fell over the report week. The spot price at the Henry Hub fell 11 cents, down from $3.07 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) Dec. 28, to $2.96 per MMBtu on Jan. 4.

Pizza company stocks

Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed last week at $59.85 after hitting another 52-week high earlier in the day at $59.98. Yum! closed the previous week at $59.01. The company traded as low as $46.40 a year ago.

Domino's closed last Friday at $33.30, a slight drop from $33.95 the previous week. DPZ hit its 52-week high of $35.00 in mid-December. Shares remain substantially higher over this time last year when the company traded at $15.80.

Papa John's closed last week at $38.10, up from $37.68 the previous week. PZZA hit its 52-week high in early December at $38.92. PZZA's 52-week low was a year ago when it traded at $26.95.

CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed out last week at $34.55, an increase from $34.45 the previous Friday. CEC hit its 52-week low of $27.42 in September. The company hit its 52-week high of $41.75 in July.

Pizza Inn closed Friday at $5.57, a bump from $5.50 the previous week. PZZI hit its 52-week high of $6.60 in early December. PZZI traded as low as $1.86 a year ago.

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