Gas prices continue to fall after a rare post-Labor Day jump attributed to heightened volatility in the Middle East, the continued aftermath of Hurricane Isaac and a handful of oil refineries being shut down for upgrades.
Cheese prices, however, are on the upswing, averaging a dime more than the previous week. Natural gas prices are also up, while wheat prices remain steady.
Average block cheese prices jumped again last week on the Chicago Mercantile Market, averaging $2.05 from $1.94 last week. Cheese prices were $1.84 two weeks ago.
Prices closed at $2 Monday, $2.05 Tuesday, $2.08 Wednesday, and $2.07 Thursday and Friday. Natural gas prices are also up, while wheat prices are steady.
Wheat prices were steady at $9.38 last week on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, matching the week prior. Wheat continues to be nearly $2 higher than it was in June, when prices averaged $7.49.
Prices closed at $9.50 Monday, $9.42 Tuesday, $9.29 Wednesday, $9.14 Thursday and $9.58 Friday.
Gasoline and diesel fuel
Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded fuel is $3.78, a slight drop from last week, when gas prices were $3.80.
According to the AAA and the Oil Price Information Service, prices a month ago were $3.82. Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.43 at the pump.
Today's mid-range unleaded is $3.93, down from $3.95 last week, while today's premium is $4.07, from $4.09.
Diesel fuel prices today are at $4.08, down from $4.10 last week. The price of diesel fuel is down from $4.09 a month ago, and up from $3.83 a year ago.
Natural gas prices generally registered overall increases for the report week (Sept. 19 to Sept. 26) at many of the country's trading locations. The Henry Hub price rose steadily through much of the reporting period to close at $2.92 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) Sept. 25 (up 22 cents per MMBtu for the week).
The natural gas futures market trended higher over most of the week. At the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), the October 2012 natural gas contract gained 26.1 cents per MMBtu to close at $3.023 per MMBtu Sept. 25.
Pizza company stocks
Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed last week at $66.34, down from $68.52 the week prior. The company hit its 52-week high in May at $74.44. Its 52-week low is $47.15 from a year ago.
Domino's closed last Friday at $37.70, a $3 jump from $34.69 the week prior, after announcing its entry into the pan pizza market for the first time. DPZ's 52-week high was $42.21 in April. Shares remain higher over this time last year when the company traded at $25.29.
Papa John's closed last Friday at $53.41, up from $52.65 the week prior. PZZA hit its 52-week high at $56.41 after turning in a strong earnings report in early August. The company hit its 52-week low of $29 a year ago.
CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed out last week at $30.12, down slightly from $30.56 the week prior. The company's 52-week high was $40.01 in March. Its 52-week low was $26.63 a year ago.
Pizza Inn closed Friday at $2.92, a drop from $3.33 the previous week. PZZI hit its 52-week high of $7.07 in December and traded as low as $2.18 a year ago.
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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.