After a rare October surge, gas prices are expected to drop by up to 50 cents a gallon soon due to higher inventory and lower demand.
According to USA Today, the drop should influence higher consumer spending heading into the holiday season.
Pizza operators should still be wary, however, of drought-stricken wheat prices as some farmers threaten to abandon their winter crops.
Average block cheese prices dropped to $2.02 last week on the Chicago Mercantile Market, from $2.10 the week before. Cheese prices remain higher over this time a month ago, when they averaged $1.84.
Prices closed at $2.10 Monday, $2.01 Tuesday and Wednesday, and $2 even Thursday and Friday.
Wheat prices inched up to $9.34 on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, from $9.31 the week prior. Wheat remains nearly $2 higher than it was in the summer, when prices averaged $7.49.
Prices closed at $9.21 Monday, $9.24 Tuesday, $9.39 Wednesday, $9.44 Thursday and $9.42 Friday.
Lingering drought conditions in the U.S. have experts worried that wheat farmers may abandon their winter crops. According to Reuters, September was the driest month in 118 years of record keeping for three wheat-heavy states. Sixty-nine percent of the U.S. winter wheat area is currently experiencing some level of drought.
Gasoline and diesel fuel
Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded fuel is $3.66, down more than a dime from $3.78 last week after prices experienced a rare October spike.
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 $3.46 at the pump.
Today's mid-range unleaded is $3.84, from $3.96 last week, while today's premium gas is $3.99, from $4.11.
Diesel fuel prices fell slightly, averaging $4.11 from $4.13 last week. The price of diesel fuel is up a penny from $4.10 last month, and up from $3.84 this time last year.
Natural gas price changes were mixed over the report week (Oct. 10 through Oct. 17). The natural gas spot price at the Henry Hub posted a net loss of 2 cents, from $3.26 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) Oct. 10 to $3.24 per MMBtu Oct. 17.
After increasing during intra-week trading, the November 2012 New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) near-month contract ended the week essentially unchanged at $3.470 per MMBtu Oct. 17, a decline of half a cent per MMBtu from the previous week.
Pizza company stocks
Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed last week at $70.09 from $69.45 the week prior, which was a $3-plus jump from two weeks ago after turning in a positive earnings report. The company hit its 52-week high in May at $74.44. Its 52-week low is $51.93 from a year ago.
Domino's closed last Friday at $40.17, a nearly $3 increase from $37.70 the week prior after a strong earnings performance. The company's 52-week high was $42.21 in April. Shares remain higher over this time last year when the company traded at $28.17.
Papa John's closed last Friday at $53.10, up from $51.96 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 $32.86 a year ago.
CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed out last week at $30.02, down slightly from $30.12 the week prior. The company's 52-week high was $40.01 in March. Its 52-week low was $28.23 a year ago.
Pizza Inn closed Friday at $2.69, more than 10 cents higher than the week prior, when shares were $2.56. 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 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.