Cheese prices jump 10 cents

Gas prices are finally falling after a rare post-Labor Day jump attributed to heightened volatility in the Middle East, the continued aftermath of Hurricane Isaac and a handful of oil refineries being shut down for upgrades.

Cheese prices, however, are on the upswing, averaging a dime more than the previous week.

Cheese

Average block cheese prices jumped a dime to $1.94 last week on the Chicago Mercantile Market, from $1.84 the week prior.

Cheese prices are more than a quarter higher than they were at the beginning of August, closing at $1.88 Monday, $1.91 Tuesday, $1.95 Wednesday, and $2 even on Thursday and Friday.

Wheat

Wheat prices fell slightly to $9.38 last week on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, from $9.40 the week prior. Wheat is nearly $2 higher than in June, when it averaged $7.49.

Prices closed at $9.30 Monday, $9.24 Tuesday, $9.42 Wednesday, $9.40 Thursday and $9.57 Friday.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded fuel is $3.80, a 6-cent drop from $3.86 last week, when prices experienced a rare September surge from Middle East tensions and the lingering aftermath of Hurricane Isaac.

According to the AAA and the Oil Price Information Service, prices a month ago were $3.74. Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.51 at the pump.

Today's mid-range unleaded is $3.95, from $4.01 last week, while today's premium is $4.09, from $4.14.

Diesel fuel prices today are at $4.10, down slightly from $4.12 last week. The price of diesel fuel is up from $4.02 a month ago, and from $3.87 a year ago.

Natural gas

Natural gas prices declined at most trading locations this week, erasing gains from last week. The spot price at the Henry Hub fell from $2.96 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) from Sept. 12, to $2.70 per MMBtu Sept. 19.

Natural gas futures prices declined along with spot prices. The New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) near-month contract (October 2012) fell from $3.063 per MMBtu Sept. 12 to $2.762 per MMBtu Sept. 19.

Pizza company stocks

Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed last week at $68.52, up nearly $2 from $66.56 last week. Yum! was trading at $63.72 three weeks ago. 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 $34.69, up slightly from $34.17 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 $52.65, up more than $1 from $51.60 the week prior. PZZA hit its 52-week high at $56.41 after turning in a strong earnings report in early August. The company hit its 52-week low of $29 a year ago.

CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed out last week at $30.56, down from $31.34 the week prior. The company's 52-week high was $40.01 a year ago. Its 52-week low was $26.63 a year ago.

Pizza Inn closed Friday at $3.33, a slight drop from $3.37 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 courtesy of public-domain-image.com.

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