Gas prices remain high at the start of summer driving season

There is no relief at the gas pump this week, as prices remained steady but high. According to the Columbus Dispatch, a big part of the Midwest experienced average prices over $4.

Prices are typically high this time of year, as the summer driving season kicks into full gear. Demand is higher and stations switch to summer fuel blends, which tends to be more expensive to produce than cold-weather fuel. There have also been some refinery issues recently, but AAA expects relief to come within the next couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, in other commodities news:

Cheese

Average block cheese prices fell a few cents to $1.72 last week on the Chicago Mercantile, from $1.75 the week prior. Cheese was $1.86 in the early part of May.

Cheese remains significantly lower than the $2.10 average at the end of 2012.

Cheese markets closed at $1.72 Monday, $1.70 Tuesday, $1.73 Wednesday, and $1.74 Thursday and Friday.

Wheat

Wheat prices rose to an average of $8.19 last week on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, from $8.14 the week prior.

Wheat averaged $7.81 in early April. 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 $8.23 Monday, $8.21 Tuesday, $8.16 Wednesday, $8.20 Thursday and $8.19 on Friday.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

The nationwide average price for regular unleaded fuel is $3.63, from $3.62 last week.

According to the AAA and the Oil Price Information Service, prices a month ago were $3.57. Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.54 at the pump.

Monday's mid-range unleaded is $3.81, from $3.80 last week. Premium gas is $3.96, from $3.95 last week.

Diesel fuel prices are $3.85, down a penny from $3.86 the week prior. The price of diesel fuel was $3.88 a month ago, and $3.83 a year ago.

Natural gas

Natural gas prices declined across all regional hubs this week (May 29-June 5). The Henry Hub closed at $3.99 per MMBtu June 5, down 16 cents, or 3.9%, for the week.

At the Nymex, the June 2013 contract closed at $4.148 per MMBtu on May 29, its final day of trading. The near-month (July) Nymex contract finished trading June 5 at $4.001 per MMBtu, 2.2 cents, or 0.5%, below its first day as the near-month contract on May 30, and 1.1 cents per MMBtu above the Henry Hub spot price.

Pizza company stocks

Shares of Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed last week at $71.12, from $68.60 the week prior. The company's 52-week low was in early February at $59.68. The company's 52-week high was $74.75 in November.

Domino's finished at $59.45, from $59.79 the week prior. Domino's hit another 52-week high last week, at $60.69, the company's sixth consecutive week turning in new highs. Its low was a year ago, at $28.59. Analysts attribute the 52-week highs to better-than-expected Q1 results, international expansions, increasing global demand and effective pricing.

Papa John's closed last week at $65.30, up from $64.86 the week prior. PZZA turned in a new 52-week high in May at $66.85. The company hit its 52-week low of $45.19 a year ago.

CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed out last week at $40.39, down one penny from $40.40 the week prior. CEC hit a new 52-week high earlier in the day on Friday, at $41.28. The company's 52-week low was in August at $28.23.

Pizza Inn closed out last week at $4.95, down from $5.05 the week prior. PZZI hit a new 52-week high in May, at $9.18, after announcing a new franchise plan. The company traded as low as $2.20 a year ago.

Photo provided by images monkey.

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