Gas prices continue to climb and are up nearly 40 cents higher than they were at the end of January. According to AAA, the cost of fuel has gone up every day for the past 23 days.
There are a few drivers behind the steady rise, including higher crude oil prices (up 10 percent in the past two months), refinery maintenance and higher demand as driving season approaches.
Meanwhile, there was a relief last week for the price of wheat and natural gas, and cheese remained somewhat steady.
Average block cheese prices inched up 2 cents last week on the Chicago Mercantile Market, averaging $1.66 from $1.64 the week prior. Cheese prices remain down from the beginning of the year when they averaged $1.76.
Cheese markets closed at $1.65 Monday, $1.66 Tuesday, and $1.67 Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Wheat prices fell 21 cents last week on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, averaging $8.21 from $8.42 the week prior. Wheat prices were $8.62 at the beginning of the month, and were averaging $9.13 at the end of 2012.
Even though prices have since fallen, they remain significantly higher than the summer of 2012, before the drought's effects kicked in. Wheat averaged $7.49 in the early part of the summer.
Last week, wheat closed at $8.26 Monday, $8.16 Tuesday, $8.23 Wednesday, $8.19 Thursday and $8.23 on Friday.
Gasoline and diesel fuel
Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded fuel is $3.73, a 15-cent jump from $3.58 the week prior, and nearly 40 cents higher than the end of January. According to the AAA and the Oil Price Information Service, prices a month ago were $3.30. Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.55 at the pump.
Today's mid-range unleaded is $3.88, up from $3.74 last week. Premium gas is $4.03, up from $3.89 last week.
Diesel fuel prices are currently $4.12, from $4.04 last week. The price of diesel fuel is also up from $3.89 last month and from $3.95 a year ago.
Natural gas prices at major trading hubs decreased moderately for the report week (Feb. 6 to Feb. 13). Natural gas prices at Algonquin Citygate, for delivery into Boston and Transco Zone 6 New York decreased from $22.63 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) and $11.74 per MMBtu Feb. 6 to $17.85 per MMBtu and $6.10 per MMBtu Feb. 13, respectively. The Henry Hub daily spot price closed at $3.28 per MMBtu Feb. 13, down 13 cents per MMBtu for the week.
The March 2013 New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex) contract decreased by 11 cents, from $3.418 per MMBtu Feb. 6 to close at $3.306 per MMBtu Feb. 13.
Pizza company stocks
Shares of Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. inched up slightly last week, closing at $63.89 from $63.57 the week prior. Yum! is feeling the effects of a weaker-than-expected Q4 earnings report from the beginning of the month. The company's 52-week high was $74.75 in November. It hit a new 52-week low of $59.68 on Feb. 5.
Domino's closed last Friday at $44.79, a drop from $46.50 the week prior. The company hit its 52-week high on Feb. 1 at $47.91. Shares in June were traded at $28.17.
Papa John's closed out last week $53.97, down from $55.93 the week prior. PZZA hit its 52-week high at $56.94 in late January. The company hit its 52-week low of $36.26 a year ago.
CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed out last week at $32.78, a slight decline from $32.85 the week prior. CEC hit its 52-week high a year ago at $40.01. Its 52-week low was in August at $28.23.
Pizza Inn dropped to $3.21 on Friday, from $3.27 the week prior and $3.80 two weeks ago. PZZI hit its 52-week high of $5.08 in March 2012 and traded as low as $2.18 in June.
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Alicia Kelso has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.