Average wheat prices flirt with $6 mark

Wall Street had a rough finish to January, and pizza companies shares were hit accordingly. The New York Times reported that indexes had their worst month in two years, driven by global economy concerns and stagnant earnings reports in the U.S.

Good news from the wheat markets, however, as the cost dropped below $6 twice last week, the lowest in years.

Cheese

Cheese prices were not reported last week on the Chicago Mercantile. The week prior, cheese averaged $2.27.

Prices were $1.89 in early December.

Wheat

Just over two months after wheat prices fell under $7 for the first time in years, wheat is now knocking on the $6 mark, averaging $6.02 last week on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange. Wheat was $6.14 the week prior.

Wheat was more than $7.50 in November.

Prices closed at $6.06 Monday, $6.05 Tuesday, $5.98 Wednesday, $5.97 Thursday and $6.04 on Friday.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

The nationwide average price for regular unleaded fuel today is $3.27, down a penny from $3.28 the week prior. According to the AAA and the Oil Price Information Service, prices a month ago were $3.32.

Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.51 at the pump.

Today's mid-range unleaded is $3.46, even from $3.46 the week prior. Premium gas is $3.63, also even from $3.63 last week.

Diesel fuel prices are averaging $3.90, up from $3.86 the week prior. The price of diesel fuel was $3.87 a month ago and $3.96 last year.

Natural gas

With another wave of cold weather, natural gas spot prices rose during the report week (Jan. 22-29) at most locations. The Henry Hub spot price hit its highest level since February 2010 on Jan. 27, settling at $5.69/ MMBtu.

Prices at the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex) also reached levels that have not been seen since 2010. Overall prices rose from $4.689/MMBtu Jan. 22 to $5.557/MMBtu Jan. 27.

Pizza company stocks

Shares of Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed out last week at $66.60, down more than $3 from its closing the week prior, at $69.80. The company hit a new 52-week high in November, at $78.68. Its 52-week low was in early February 2013, at $59.68.

Domino's finished last week at $69.57, also down more than $3 from the week prior, when shares closed at $72.85. DPZ hit a new 52-week high two weeks ago at $73.41. Its 52-week low was $44.45 a year ago.

Papa John's shares finished last week at $48.16, a slight drop from $48.57 the week prior. PZZA hit a new all-time high of $49.33 two weeks ago. Its low of $24.94 was a year ago.

CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed out last week at $53.97, down from $54.15 the week prior. CEC hit a new 52-week-high two weeks earlier at $55.14. Its annual low was a year ago at $28.95.

Pizza Inn Holdings closed out last week at $6.39, down from $7.89 the week prior. The company's 52-week-high was $9.18 in May. It traded as low as $3.03 a year ago.

Read more about food cost management.

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