Pizza stocks benefit from strong Wall Street finish

Pizza stocks benefited from a strong Wall Street finish last week, following news of a plan to boost the struggling European economy.

According to the Associated Press, gains were evident across all but 13 stocks in the S&P 500. Stocks jumped after Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, announced a new program to buy government bonds from struggling countries to lower their borrowing costs.

Also, after a couple of weeks of rising gas prices, including a record Labor Day high from Hurricane Isaac, costs at the pump have stabilized. Analysts expect continued gradual relief.

Cheese

Average block cheese prices fell 2 cents to $1.82 last week on the Chicago Mercantile Market, from $1.84 the week prior.

Cheese prices are nearly 15 cents higher than they were at the beginning of August.

Cheese prices closed at $1.82 Tuesday and Wednesday, $1.84 Thursday and $1.83 Friday. The market was closed Monday for the Labor Day holiday.

Wheat

Wheat prices rose a penny last week on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, averaging $9.26. Prices the week before were $9.27. Wheat was as low as $7.49 in June.

Prices closed at $9.28 Tuesday, $9.13 Wednesday, $9.29 Thursday and $9.40 Friday.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded fuel is $3.82, matching last week's average after weeks of increases from Hurricane Isaac and Middle East turmoil.

According to the AAA and the Oil Price Information Service, prices a month ago were $3.68. Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.66 at the pump.

Today's mid-range unleaded is $3.97, also matching the week prior, while today's premium is $4.11.

Diesel fuel prices today are at $4.11, up a penny from $4.10 last week. The price of diesel fuel is up from $3.90 a month ago, and from $3.91 a year ago.

Natural gas

Natural gas prices posted increases for the report week (Aug. 29 to Sept. 5) across most trading locations. Algonquin Citygate, which serves Boston, posted one of the largest increases beginning the week at $2.99 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) and rising to $3.55 per MMBtu Sept. 4. The Henry Hub closed at $2.87 per MMBtu Sept. 4, up 24 cents for the week.

The natural gas futures market rose more modestly than spot prices. At the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), the October 2012 natural gas contract rose 11 cents per MMBtu to close at $2.795 per MMBtu Sept. 4.

Pizza company stocks

Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed last week at $65.75, up more than $2 from $63.72 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 $36.16, up from $35.44 the previous Friday. DPZ's 52-week high was $42.21 in April. Shares remain higher over this time last year when the company traded at $25.29.

Papa John's closed last Friday at $52.78, a jump from $51.49 the week prior. PZZA hit its 52-week high at $56.41 after turning in a strong earnings report last month. The company hit its 52-week low of $27.77 a year ago.

CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed out last week at $30.68, from $29.49 the week prior. The company's 52-week high was $40.01 a year ago. Its 52-week low was $25.83 in September.

Pizza Inn closed Friday at $3.43, down a penny from the previous week. PZZI hit its 52-week high of $7.07 in December and traded as low as $2.18 a year ago.

Photo provided by Fernando Zuleta via Flickr.

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