Bad news first: Gas prices have jumped 18 cents in a week. According to AAA, an increase in crude oil prices and production issues at a handful of refineries have attributed to the increase. The escalation is expected to continue as the approaching switch to summer blends could put a strain on supplies.
And now the good news: The stock market continued its bullish performance in 2013. Once again, the Dow hit a notable milestone last week, closing above 14,000 for the first time since October 2007.
The S&P hit is highest level since December 2007 after a 5 percent increase in January, its best start to a year since 1997.
Average block cheese prices continued to fall last week on the Chicago Mercantile Market, averaging $1.64, from $1.65 last week and from $1.76 in the beginning of January.
Cheese markets closed at $1.64 Monday through Friday.
Wheat prices inched up a penny last week on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, averaging $8.62 from $8.61 the week prior.
Wheat closed at $8.66 Monday, $8.61 Tuesday, $8.69 Wednesday, $8.65 Thursday and $8.51 on Friday.
Wheat prices were averaging $9.13 at the end of the year. The cost is still significantly higher than it was during the middle of the summer when prices averaged $7.49.
Gasoline and diesel fuel
Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded fuel is $3.52, up 18 cents from $3.34 the week prior. According to the AAA and the Oil Price Information Service, prices a month ago were $3.29. Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.47 at the pump.
Today's mid-range unleaded is $3.68, from $3.50 last week. Premium gas is $3.83, up from $3.66 last week.
Diesel fuel prices are currently $3.97, up from $3.90 last week. The price of diesel fuel is also up from $3.91 last month and from $3.88 a year ago.
Natural gas prices fell across the board this week. Cold weather in the Northeast, which had driven prices in New York and New England above $30 per million British thermal unit (MMBtu) earlier in the report week, relented and prices dropped back to the single digits. The Henry Hub price declined 29 cents per MMBtu during the week to end at $3.24 per MMBtu.
The March 2013 New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex) contract moved into the front-month slot and fell from $3.554 per MMBtu Jan. 23 to $3.335 per MMBtu Jan. 30. The February contract expired on January 29 at $3.226 per MMBtu.
Pizza company stocks
Shares of Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed Friday at $64.94, down from $66.39 the week prior as the company gets ready to release its Q4 2012 earnings report Tuesday. The company's 52-week high was in the spring at $74.75. Its 52-week low is $61.05 from a year ago.
Domino's closed last Friday at $46.57, down slightly from $46.65 the week prior. The company hit a fresh 52-week high in January at $47.91. Shares remain higher over this time last year when the company traded at $28.17. According to Seeking Alpha, Domino's was up "an astonishing 28 percent in 2012. So far, the returns have continued in to 2013 with shares up about 6.50 percent since the start of the year."
Papa John's closed out last week $56.10, down from $56.44 the week prior. PZZA hit its 52-week high at $56.94 last month. 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 $32.96, down from $33 the week prior.
Pizza Inn finished last week at $3.80, up from $3.66 the week prior. PZZI hit its 52-week high of $6.50 a year ago and traded as low as $2.18 in June.
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Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with FastCasual.com, QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.