Lower crude oil prices ease pain at the gas pump

A survey released last week showed that gas prices may have hit their peak as they experienced their smallest increase since early January. This week, they actually decreased from the prior week, attributable to eased tensions with Iran. Mild temperatures also kept natural gas prices low.

Cheese

Average block cheese prices dropped a penny to $1.48 last week on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Prices for the past two weeks have been $1.49.

Prices closed at $1.48 Monday through Friday.

Wheat

Wheat prices dropped last week, averaging $8.35 on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, from $8.47 the week prior.

Wheat prices closed at $8.47 Monday, $8.33 Tuesday, $8.38 Wednesday, $8.36 Thursday and $8.24 Friday.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded fuel is $3.90, down from $3.92 last week, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. This is the first week-to-week drop in gas prices in months. Crude oil prices also have started to drop as tensions with Iran begin to ease a bit.

Prices remain up from a month ago when they were $3.83. Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.82 at the pump.

Today's mid-range unleaded is $4.04, down a bit from $4.06 last week, while today's premium unleaded price is $4.17, from $4.19 last week.

Diesel fuel prices are averaging $4.14, a small dip from $4.16 last week. The price of diesel fuel is up from $4.12 a month ago, and from $4.13 a year ago.

Natural gas

With continued mild April temperatures and the fourth week of net storage injections in 2012, natural gas prices dropped again this week. The Henry Hub price closed at $1.91 per MMBtu on April 11, down 15 cents for the week.

At the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), the May 2012 natural gas contract fell 15.7 cents per MMBtu for the week to close at $1.984 per MMBtu on April 11.

Pizza company stocks

Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed last week at $72.86 after hitting another 52-week high earlier in the day, at $73.70. The company closed at $70.68 the previous week. Its 52-year low is $47.15, a year ago.

Domino's closed last Friday at $35.49, a drop from $36.33 the previous week. DPZ hit its 52-week high last month at $42.21. Shares remain substantially higher over this time last year when the company traded at $17.75.

Papa John's closed last week at $38.18, a jump from $37.51 the previous Friday. PZZA hit its 52-week high in February 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 $36.99, down from $37.60 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 2011.

Pizza Inn closed Friday at $4.40, from $4.64 the previous week. PZZI hit its 52-week high of $7.07 in December and traded as low as $2.06 a year ago.

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