Cheese prices jump more than a dime in a week

The country's widespread drought continues to hold the commodities market in its grip. A poor corn harvest is expected to continue to affect the cost of beef, pork, poultry and dairy.

Cheese jumped more than a dime in a week. Wheat prices have tempered a bit after spiking past $10 in July, up more than $2.50 from June. Gas prices continue to rise, as well, with numerous factors cited as reason for the increases.

Cheese

Average block cheese prices jumped to $1.81 last week on the Chicago Mercantile Market, from $1.70 the week prior.

Cheese prices closed at $1.73 Monday, $1.80 Tuesday and $1.85 Wednesday through Friday.

Wheat

Wheat prices dropped to $9.43 last week on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, from $9.47 last week. Wheat averaged $7.49 in early June.

Wheat closed at $9.39 Monday, $9.36 Tuesday, $9.45 Wednesday, $9.59 Thursday and $9.35 Friday.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

WKZO, analysts, including the Lundberg Survey, attribute surging gas prices to more expensive summer blends, rising crude oil prices, refinery problems, tensions in Syria and Iran and a possibility of ethanol shortages from a drought-affected corn harvest.

Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded fuel is $3.69, up 8 cents from $3.61 the previous week, and more than 20 cents from two weeks ago, according to the AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.

Prices a month ago were at $3.39. Last year, consumers were paying $3.60 at the pump.

Today's mid-range unleaded is $3.84, up from $3.76 the week prior, while today's premium is $3.98, from $3.89.

Diesel fuel prices today are at $3.92, from $3.81 last week. The price of diesel fuel is up from $3.67 a month ago, and from $3.90 a year ago.

Natural gas

Natural gas prices declined for the report week (July 25 to Aug. 1) at many of the country's trading locations, although a few points in the Northeast defied the trend. Algonquin Citygate (for delivery to Boston) began the week at $3.97 per MMBtu and rose to $4.24 per MMBtu July 31, while the Henry Hub price closed at $2.96 per MMBtu, down 24 cents for the week.

The natural gas futures market sank a bit week-over-week. At the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), the September 2012 natural gas contract fell 23.8 cents per MMBtu to close at $2.933 per MMBtu yesterday.

Pizza company stocks

Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed last week at $66.83, from $67.53 the week prior. The company hit its 52-week high in May at $74.44. Its 52-week low is $47.15 from a year ago.

Domino's closed last Friday at $34.09, down a bit from $34.46 the week prior. DPZ's 52-week high was $42.21 in April. Shares remain higher over this time last year when the company traded at $24.76.

Papa John's closed last Friday at $51.27, a drop from $52.77 the week prior. PZZA hit its 52-week high at $56.41 after turning in a strong earnings report two weeks ago. The company hit its 52-week low of $26.95 a year ago.

CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed out last week at $29.56, up slightly from $28.96 the week prior. The company was trading as high as $34.61 two weeks ago before turning in a disappointing Q2 earnings report. CEC's 52-week high was $40.01 a year ago. Its 52-week low was $25.83 in September.

Pizza Inn closed Friday at $3.10, a bump from $2.35 the previous week. PZZI hit its 52-week high of $7.07 in December and traded as low as $2.18 a year ago.

Image provided by public domain image.

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