While continually rising gas prices remain the big headline for businesses, cheese and natural gas prices also inched up last week. Pizza operators, however, can enjoy a bit of a relief in wheat prices. Also, Yum! Brands and Domino's hit new 52-week highs last week.
Average block cheese prices jumped 5 cents last week to $1.58 on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Prices last week were $1.58.
Prices closed at $1.58 Monday, $1.60 Tuesday, $1.63 Wednesday and Thursday and $1.49 Friday.
Wheat prices fell to $8.05 on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, from $8.13 the previous week.
Wheat closed at $8.07 Monday, $7.99 Tuesday, $7.98 Wednesday, $8.07 Thursday and $8.17 Friday.
Gasoline and diesel fuel
Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded fuel is $3.89, another jump from $3.84 last week, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.
Prices a month ago were $3.67. Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.67 at the pump.
Today's mid-range unleaded is $4.04, up from $3.98 last week, while today's premium unleaded price is $4.17, up from $4.11 last week.
Diesel fuel prices are averaging $4.15, up from $4.13 last week. The price of diesel fuel has risen from $4.00 a month ago, and from $3.95 a year ago.
Oil prices are at a 10-month high amid tensions with Iran, causing a disruption in supplies. The improving economy also has boosted oil prices. Analysts have predicted that gas prices could reach $4 a gallon by spring, citing production issues and ongoing tumult in foreign markets.
Despite record-warm March temperatures and the first storage injection of 2012, natural gas prices rebounded slightly this week. The Henry Hub price closed at $2.21 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) on March 21, up 8 cents for the week.
At the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), the April 2012 natural gas contract rose 7.6 cents per MMBtu for the week to close at $2.360 per MMBtu.
Pizza company stocks
Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed last week at $70.64, up from $68.40 the previous week. The company hit another 52-week high earlier in the week, at $71.12, backed by a strong Chinese market. A year ago, the company was trading as low as $47.15.
Domino's closed last Friday at $36.25, down from $39.96 the week before. DPZ hit its 52-week high earlier in the week at $42.21 after announcing a special $3 dividend to shareholders. Shares remain substantially higher over this time last year when the company traded at $15.80.
Papa John's closed last week at $37.18, up 2 cents from $37.16 the previous Friday. PZZA hit a new 52-week high last month at $40.82. 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 $38.42, up from $38.11 the week prior. CEC hit its 52-week low of $25.83 in September. The company hit its 52-week high of $42.75 in July.
Pizza Inn closed Friday at $4.83, from $4.61 the previous week. PZZI hit its 52-week high of $7.07 in December and traded as low as $1.91 a year ago.
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