According to a recently released report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2012 was the warmest year on record in the U.S. since recordkeeping began in 1895. These above-average temperatures sent natural gas consumption down as well as prices.
Commercial natural gas consumption in 2012, was lower than it has been in the past five years
Meanwhile, average block cheese prices continued to fall last week on the Chicago Mercantile Market, averaging $1.70 from $1.72 the week prior, and $1.76 from two weeks ago.
Cheese closed at $1.72 Monday, $1.71 Tuesday, $1.70 Wednesday and Thursday and $1.68 on Friday.
Wheat prices, however, bounced back up last week on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, averaging $8.66 from $8.44 the week prior.
Wheat closed at $8.52 Monday, $8.66 Tuesday, $8.71 Wednesday, $8.69 Thursday and $8.74 Friday.
Wheat prices were averaging $9.13 about a month ago. 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 $3.30, matching the week prior, according to the AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. Prices a month ago were $3.24. Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.38 at the pump.
Today's mid-range unleaded is $3.46, also even from last week. Premium gas is $3.62, up a penny from $3.61 last week.
Diesel fuel prices are currently $3.89, down a penny from $3.90 last week. The price of diesel fuel is also down from $3.91 a month ago, but up from $3.86 a year ago.
Natural gas prices were up across the board for the report week (Jan. 9 to Jan. 16). The Henry Hub closed at $3.43 per million British thermal unit (MMBtu) Jan. 16, up 29 cents for the week. Trading points in the Northeast saw the most substantial price jumps.
The January 2013 New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex) contract increased by 32 cents, from $3.113 per MMBtu Jan. 9 to close at $3.435 per MMBtu Jan. 16. The near-month Nymex price ended the week just one half cent per MMBtu above the Henry Hub price.
Pizza company stocks
After turning in high numbers across the board thanks to Washington D.C.'s efforts to avert going off the fiscal cliff in the beginning of the month, pizza stocks have since stabilized or, in some cases, dropped a bit.
During the first week of January, the S&P 500 finished at its highest collective closing since December 2007.
Shares of Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed Friday at $65.40, down from $66.87 the week prior. 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 $45.46, up from $45.16 the week prior. The company hit a fresh 52-week earlier this month at $46.27. Shares remain higher over this time last year when the company traded at $28.17.
Papa John's closed out last week $55.31, from $55.02 the week prior. PZZA hit its 52-week high at $56.69 earlier this month, eclipsing its previous high of $56.41 set in August. 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 $32.46, down from $33.85 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 finished last week at $3.61, a slight drop from $3.75 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 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.