Gas prices drop nearly 50 cents in two months

Prices at the pump have fallen nearly 50 cents per gallon throughout the past two months, according to this week's Lundberg Survey.

Drivers of the decrease include fixed refining problems, lower demand and lower crude oil prices. Publisher Trilby Lundberg expects a continued drop.

Additionally, cheese prices continue to fall after averaging $2.11 in early November. And, Yum! Brands' shares continued to slide after falling nearly $7 last week over a forecasted drop in Q4 sales at its China division.

Cheese

Average block cheese prices dropped again last week on the Chicago Mercantile Market, averaging $1.76, from $1.80 the week prior. Cheese averaged $2.11 in the beginning of November.

Prices closed at $1.76 Monday through Friday.

Wheat

Wheat prices dropped a bit last week, averaging $9.13 on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, from $9.13 the week prior. Wheat remains nearly $2 higher than it was in the summer, when prices averaged $7.49.

Prices closed at $9.12 Monday, $9.08 Tuesday, $9.15 Wednesday and $9.17 Thursday and Friday.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded fuel is $3.34, another 4-cent drop from $3.38 last week.

According to the AAA and the Oil Price Information Service, prices a month ago were $3.44. Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.28 at the pump.

Today's mid-range unleaded is $3.50, down from $3.55 last week. Premium gas is $3.65, from $3.70 last week.

Diesel fuel prices fell slightly, to $3.98 from $4.01 last week. The price of diesel fuel is down from $4 last month and up from $3.91 last year.

Natural gas

Natural gas prices registered overall decreases for the report week (Nov. 28 to Dec. 5) at many of the country's trading locations. The Henry Hub price declined steadily throughout most of the reporting period, closing Dec. 5 at $3.41 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), down 29 cents per MMBtu for the week.

The natural gas futures market trended lower over most of the week. At the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), the January 2012 natural gas contract lost 10.1 cents per MMBtu overall to close at $3.700 per MMBtu Dec. 5.

Pizza company stocks

Shares of Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed at $66.30 last week, down from $67.08 the previous week, which was a 10-percent drop for the company after a forecast of soft sales in China in Q4. The company hit its 52-week high in the spring at $74.75. Its 52-week low is $57.09 from a year ago.

Domino's closed last Friday at $41.77, a slight uptick from $41.60 the week prior. The company's 52-week high was $42.63 in April. Shares remain higher over this time last year when the company traded at $28.17.

Papa John's closed out last week $52.73, down slightly from $52.93 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 $35.89 a year ago.

CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed out last week at $31.71, a jump from $31.30 the week prior and $30.37 two weeks ago. The company's 52-week high was $40.01 in March. Its 52-week low was $28.23 a year ago.

Pizza Inn inched up to $3.44 last week, from $3.27 the week prior. PZZI hit its 52-week high of $6.50 a year ago and traded as low as $2.18 in June.

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