Storm forces Wall Street to close for two days

Stocks won't be traded today or Tuesday, as the New York Stock Exchange made the rare call to close in preparation of Hurricane Sandy's arrival. The last time Wall Street closed for weather-related reasons was in 1985, for Hurricane Gloria. The exchange hasn't been closed for two consecutive days since 1888.

It's too early to tell whether this move will have any impact on pizza stocks. In the meantime, Papa John's will report its third quarter results Wednesday morning.

Also, after a rare early October jump, gas prices continue to fall on lower demand. Pizza operators also have their eye on cheese prices, which jumped to $2.12 to close out last week.

Cheese

Average block cheese prices rose to $2.06 last week on the Chicago Mercantile Market, from $2.02 the week before. Cheese prices were about $1.84 a month ago.

Prices closed at $2.01 Monday, $2.04 Tuesday, $2.05 Wednesday, $2.09 Thursday and $2.12 Friday.

Wheat

Wheat prices inched up to $9.46 last week on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, from $9.34 the week prior. Wheat remains nearly $2 higher than it was in the summer, when prices averaged $7.49.

Prices closed at $9.47 Monday, $9.45 Tuesday, $9.55 Wednesday, $9.45 Thursday and $9.40 Friday.

Lingering drought conditions in the U.S. have experts worried that wheat farmers may abandon their winter crops. According to Reuters, September was the driest month in 118 years of record keeping for three wheat-heavy states. Sixty-nine percent of the U.S. winter wheat area is currently experiencing some level of drought.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded fuel is $3.54, down more than a dime from $3.66 last week.

According to the AAA and the Oil Price Information Service, prices a month ago were $3.78. Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.44 at the pump.

Today's mid-range unleaded is $3.72, from $3.84 last week, while today's premium gas is $3.87, from $3.99.

Diesel fuel prices fell slightly, averaging $4.06, from $4.11 last week. The price of diesel fuel is also down from $4.08 last month and up from $3.86 last year.

Natural gas

Natural gas prices posted increases at most trading locations across the week (Oct. 17-Oct. 24). The Henry Hub closed at $3.43 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) Oct. 24, up 19 cents per MMBtu for the week. Trading points in Southern California ended flat or slightly down.

The November 2012 New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) contract fell from $3.470 per MMBtu Oct. 17 to close at $3.450 per MMBtu Oct. 24.

Pizza company stocks

Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed last week at $70.19, up a dime from $70.09 the week prior. Three weeks ago, the company was trading about $3 lower but was given a lift from a positive Q3 earnings report. The company hit its 52-week high in May at $74.44. Its 52-week low is $52.16 from a year ago.

Domino's closed last Friday at $40.59, up from $40.17 the week prior and nearly $3 up from two weeks ago after the company was lifted by a strong Q3 earnings report. The company's 52-week high was $42.21 in April. Shares remain higher over this time last year when the company traded at $28.17.

Papa John's closed last Friday at $52.36, down from $53.10 the week prior. PZZA hit its 52-week high at $56.41 after a strong Q2 earnings report in early August. The company hit its 52-week low of $32.86 a year ago.

CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed out last week at $30.69, up a bit from $30.02 the week prior. The company's 52-week high was $40.01 in March. Its 52-week low was $28.23 a year ago.

Pizza Inn closed Friday at $2.63, a slight drop from $2.69 the week prior. PZZI hit its 52-week high of $7.07 in December and traded as low as $2.18 a year ago.

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