Wheat prices are nearly $1 lower than they were just a month ago, attributable to relatively normal weather patterns and lower gas prices. Meanwhile, public pizza companies are navigating a tricky market following the $2 billion loss from JP Morgan Chase's risky trading activities.
Average block cheese prices remained somewhat steady last week on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, averaging $1.50, from $1.53 the previous week.
Prices closed at $1.53 Monday, $1.49 Tuesday through Thursday and $1.50 Friday.
Wheat prices continue to tumble on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange. Last week's average was $7.33, down from $7.54 the week prior, and $7.79 two weeks ago. Wheat was above $8 last month.
Prices last week closed at $7.35 Monday, $7.31 Tuesday and Wednesday, $7.30 Thursday and $7.41 Friday. Falling oil prices and improved weather conditions have lowered the cost of wheat in the past couple of weeks.
Gasoline and diesel fuel
Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded fuel is $3.72, down from $3.77 last week, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.
Prices also are down from a month ago when they were $3.90. Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.97 at the pump.
Today's mid-range unleaded is $3.88, down from $3.93 last week, while today's premium unleaded price is $4.02, also down from $4.08.
Diesel fuel prices are averaging $4.04, down from $4.08 last week. The price of diesel fuel is down a dime from $4.14 a month ago, and from $4.13 a year ago.
Natural gas prices remained above $2.00 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) over the report week (May 2-May 9) at most trading locations across the country. The Henry Hub price closed within a 9-cent range, settling at $2.36 per MMBtu yesterday (up 5 cents for the week).
The natural gas futures market generally trended higher over the week. At the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), the June 2012 natural gas contract gained 21.2 cents per MMBtu to close at $2.465 per MMBtu yesterday.
Pizza company stocks
Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed last week at $71.70, up slightly from $70.70 the week prior. The company hit its 52-week high earlier this week at $74.44 after turning in a positive earnings report. Its 52-week low is $47.15 from a year ago.
Domino's closed last Friday at $33.65, up from $32.64 the previous week. DPZ's 52-week high was $42.21 from last month. Shares remain substantially higher over this time last year when the company traded at $22.84.
Papa John's closed last week at $48.55, down slightly from $49.11 the week prior, but up significantly from $40.17 two weeks ago. PZZA hit its 52-week high last week at $50.45 after a positive earnings report. 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 $36.02, up from $33.72 the week prior. CEC hit its 52-week low of $25.83 in September. The company hit its 52-week high of $42.75 in July 2011.
Pizza Inn closed Friday at $3.05, down from $3.40 the week prior. PZZI hit its 52-week high of $7.07 in December and traded as low as $2.20 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.