The commodities markets continue to be in the spotlight as the U.S. navigates its largest drought since the 1950s. Of particular concern is the corn harvest, which is expected to spike the cost of beef, pork, poultry and dairy.
After jumping past $10 last month – up more than $2.50 since early June – wheat prices have tempered a bit. Cheese remains stable, while gas and natural gas prices are on the rise.
Average block cheese prices were $1.70 last week on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, down a penny from the week prior.
Cheese prices closed at $1.70 Monday through Thursday, and finished the week out at $1.71.
Wheat prices fell to $9.47 last week on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, from $9.80 the week prior and $10.03 two weeks ago. Wheat averaged $7.49 in early June.
Wheat closed at $9.76 Monday, $9.53 Tuesday, $9.38 Wednesday, $9.26 Thursday and $9.44 Friday.
Gasoline and diesel fuel
According to the latest Lundberg Survey, crude oil prices jumped nearly $3 a barrel within the past two weeks, bringing gasoline prices with it.
Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded fuel is $3.61, up more than 10 cents from $3.48 the previous week, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.
Prices a month ago were at $3.37. Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.68 at the pump.
Today's mid-range unleaded is $3.76, up from $3.63 the week prior, while today's premium is $3.89, from $3.76.
Diesel fuel prices didn't jump quite as much, averaging $3.81, from $3.76 last week. The price of diesel fuel is up from $3.67 a month ago, and down from $3.95 a year ago.
Natural gas prices increased modestly for the report week (July 25 to Aug. 1) at many of the country's trading locations, with an exception at the Algonquin Citygate trading point (for delivery into Boston), which registered an increase of 39 cents per million British thermal units (MMBtu). The Henry Hub price closed at $3.20 per MMBtu, up 1 cent for the week.
The natural gas futures market trended steadily higher over the week. At the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), the September 2012 natural gas contract gained 12 cents per MMBtu to close at $3.171 per MMBtu July 31.
Pizza company stocks
Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed last week at $67.53, up from $66.73 the week prior. Yum! was trading at $64.72 three weeks ago, and received a lift from its earnings report in July. 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 $34.46, up from $33.85 the week prior. DPZ's 52-week high was $42.21 in April. Shares remain higher over this time last year when the company traded at $22.84. Domino's turned in a positive earnings report two weeks ago to give its shares a boost.
Papa John's closed last Friday at $52.77, up from $51.20 the week prior. PZZA hit its 52-week high at $56.41 after turning in a strong earnings report last week. The company hit its 52-week low of $26.95 a year ago.
CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed out last week at $28.96, down almost $6 from $34.61 the week prior after turning in a disappointing Q2 earnings report. The company hit its 52-week high of $40.01 a year ago. Its 52-week low was $25.83 in September.
Pizza Inn closed Friday at $2.35, down a penny from $2.36 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 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.