Cheese prices continue to rise

Despite a shortage of fuel in the areas hit by Hurricane Sandy last week, gas prices continue to fall and are down 7 cents from the week prior.

Cheese prices, meanwhile, are on the rise. There has been some relief in wheat prices that have been steadily increasing because of a drought gripping most of the country. 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.

Cheese

Average block cheese prices rose again to $2.11 last week on the Chicago Mercantile Market, from $2.06 the week before. Cheese prices were about $2.00 a month ago.

Prices closed at $2.11 Monday through Friday.

Wheat

Wheat prices dropped to $9.39 last week on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, from $9.46 the week prior. Wheat remains nearly $2 higher than it was in the summer, when prices averaged $7.49.

Prices closed at $9.38 Monday, $9.34 Tuesday, $9.42 Wednesday, $9.43 Thursday and $9.40 Friday.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded fuel is $3.47, down again from $3.54 last week, despite a shortage in the Northeast as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

According to the AAA and the Oil Price Information Service, prices a month ago were $3.80. Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.41 at the pump.

Today's mid-range unleaded is $3.64, from $3.72 last week, while today's premium gas is $3.79, from $3.87.

Diesel fuel prices fell slightly, averaging $4.03, from $4.06 last week. The price of diesel fuel is also down from $4.08 last month and up from $3.89 last year.

Natural gas

Natural gas prices flattened out this week (Oct. 24 to Oct. 31) following last week's increases. The Henry Hub closed at $3.50 per million British thermal units yesterday, up 7 cents per MMBtu for the week, after increasing last week by 19 cents per MMBtu. Prices mostly rose across the board, with the exception of general declines in the Rocky Mountain region and some declines in California.

The December 2012 New York Mercantile Exchange decreased, from $3.776 per MMBtu Oct. 24 to $3.692 per MMBtu Oct. 31. The November contract expired on October 29 at $3.471 per MMBtu.

Pizza company stocks

Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed last week at $72.12, up nearly $2 from $70.19 the week prior. The company hit its 52-week high in May at $74.44. Its 52-week low is $52.54 from a year ago.

Domino's closed last Friday at $40.52, down slightly from $40.59 the week prior. 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 $50.27, down more than $2 from $52.36 the week prior, despite a positive earnings report. 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 $35.21 a year ago.

CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed out last week at $32.60, despite another "disappointing" earnings report, according to CEO Michael Magusiak. 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 $2.69, up from $2.63 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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