Natural gas trading at its lowest level in a decade

Cheese

Average block cheese prices dropped to $1.55 last week on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Cheese averaged $1.59 the previous two weeks.

Prices closed at $1.59 Monday and Tuesday, $1.55 Wednesday, $1.54 Thursday and $1.50 on Friday.

Wheat

Wheat prices also fell last week, averaging $8.01 on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, down from $8.09 the previous week.

A recent report showed more winter wheat acres have been planted domestically as drought conditions eased, causing the lower prices.

The wheat market was closed Jan. 16 for Martin Luther King Day, and closed at $8.08 Tuesday, $8 Wednesday, $7.99 Thursday and $7.98 Friday.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded fuel is $3.38, even from last week, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.

Prices a month ago were $3.22. Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.11 at the pump.

Today's mid-range unleaded is $3.51, down from $3.52 last week, while today's premium unleaded price is $3.65, from $3.66 last week.

Diesel fuel prices are averaging $3.86, a drop from $3.87 last week. The price of diesel fuel is up from $3.83 a month ago, and from $3.42 a year ago.

Last week, analysts predicted that gas prices could reach $4 a gallon by spring, citing production issues and global worries.

Natural gas

Spot prices at most market locations fell during the report week (Jan. 11 to Jan. 18), the result of relatively mild weather in most of the country. The Henry Hub spot price fell 32 cents from $2.81 per MMBtu to $2.49 per MMBtu.

Natural gas prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) settled at $2.48 per million British Thermal Units (MMBtu) on Jan. 17. Natural gas has not traded this low since March 5, 2002, nearly 10 years ago.

Pizza company stocks

Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed last week at $62.47 after hitting another 52-week high earlier in the day at $63.44. Yum! closed the previous week at $60.86 and was lifted by news of its African expansion. A year ago, the company traded as low as $46.27.

Domino's closed last Friday at $32.40, down from $34.08 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 $38.85 after hitting its 52-week high earlier in the day at $39.19. PZZA closed the previous week at $38.41. The company hit its 52-week low a year ago when it traded at $26.95.

CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed out last week at $35.99, a jump from $35.60 the previous week. 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 $5.51, a slight drop from $5.57 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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