Lower gas prices expected to boost consumer spending

Economists predict that lower gas prices should contribute to higher consumer spending in the months ahead. Gas prices have steadily declined since the beginning of the year and are lower than this time last year. Many expect gas prices to continue dropping into the summer.

Cheese

Average block cheese prices dropped a penny last week on the Chicago Mercantile, averaging $1.86 from $1.87 the week prior.

Cheese is up nearly 20 cents from the beginning of April; however it remains lower than the $2.10 average at the end of 2012.

Cheese markets closed at $1.88 Monday and $1.86 Tuesday through Friday.

Wheat

Wheat prices continued to climb last week, averaging $8.16 on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, from $8.11 the week prior. Wheat averaged $7.95 two weeks ago and $7.81 three weeks ago.

Prices averaged $9.13 at the end of 2012. Prices during the mid-summer 2012 averaged $7.49, before the drought kicked in.

Last week, wheat closed at $8.18 Monday, $8.15 Tuesday, $8.17 Wednesday, $8.23 Thursday and $8.11 Friday.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded fuel is $3.50, down a penny from $3.51 last week.

According to the AAA and the Oil Price Information Service, prices a month ago were $3.63. Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.81 at the pump.

Today's mid-range unleaded is $3.67, from $3.69 last week. Premium gas is $3.83, from $3.85 last week.

Diesel fuel prices averaged $3.88, a drop from $3.91 last week. The price of diesel fuel also is down from $4 last month and from $4.09 a year ago.

Natural gas

Natural gas prices were nearly flat across the report week (April 17-24). Many price points increased by just a few cents per million British thermal units, with the exception of Northeastern points, which rose more substantially. The Henry Hub closed at $4.25 per MMBtu yesterday, up 1 cent for the week.

The May 2013 New York Mercantile Exchange contract fell slightly, from $4.214 per MMBtu April 17 to close at $4.166 per MMBtu April 24.

Pizza company stocks

Shares of Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed last week at $67.20, up from $65 flat the week prior after reporting its quarterly earnings results. Yum's 52-week low was in early February at $59.68. The company's 52-week high was $74.75 in November.

Domino's closed last Friday at $51.92, up from $49.90 the week prior. DPZ is riding a strong Q4 earnings report which led to a fresh 52-week-high of $52.91 earlier this month. Shares in June were traded at $28.17.

Papa John's closed last week at $62.16, from $61.20 the Friday prior. PZZA turned in a new 52-week high on April 2 at $62.41. The company hit its 52-week low of $39.03 a year ago.

CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed out last week at $32.77, up from $31.56 the week prior. CEC hit a new 52-week high of $39.36 earlier this month after a new mobile app launch. The company's 52-week low was in August at $28.23.

Pizza Inn closed out last week at $7.14, a jump from $5.75 the week prior after announcing the opening of its first franchised Pie Five unit. PZZI hit a new 52-week high of $7.88 earlier in the day on Friday and traded as low as $2.18 in June.

Read more supply chain and commodities news.

Photo provided by Wikimedia.

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