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Wallets got a little thinner this week as average wheat and cheese prices both jumped. Natural gas prices also experienced moderate increases, and after weeks on the decline gas prices were stagnant week-over-week.
Average block cheese prices jumped to $1.87 last week on the Chicago Mercantile, from $1.80 the week prior. Cheese is up nearly 20 cents from the beginning of April; however it remains lower than the $2.10 average at the end of 2012.
Cheese markets closed at $1.87 Monday and Tuesday, and at $1.88 Wednesday through Friday.
Wheat prices jumped back above the $8 mark last week, averaging $8.11 on the Minneapolis Grain exchange. Wheat averaged $7.95 the week prior and $7.81 two weeks ago.
Prices averaged $9.13 at the end of 2012. Prices during the mid-summer 2012 averaged $7.49, before the drought kicked in.
Last week, wheat closed at $7.98 Monday, $8.09 Tuesday, $8.08 Wednesday, $8.17 Thursday and $8.25 on Friday.
Gasoline and diesel fuel
After months on an upswing, gas prices slid downward for the fourth week in a row. Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded fuel is $3.51, a penny lower than last week's average of $3.52.
According to the AAA and the Oil Price Information Service, prices a month ago were $3.67. Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.86 at the pump.
Today's mid-range unleaded is $3.69, even from $3.69 last week. Premium gas is $3.85, also even from last week's average.
Diesel fuel prices averaged $3.91, down from $3.95 last week. The price of diesel fuel also is down from $4.03 last month and from $4.11 a year ago.
Natural gas prices increased moderately at most major trading hubs for the report week (April 10-17) with the exception of the prices in the Northeast. Henry Hub prices increased from $4.07 per million British thermal units, or MMBtu, April 10 to $4.24 per MMBtu April 17, while natural gas prices at Algonquin Citygate for delivery into Boston decreased from $4.94 per MMBtu to $4.65 per MMBtu.
The May 2013 New York Mercantile Exchange contract increased by 13 cents, from $4.085 per MMBtu April 10 to close at $4.214 per MMBtu April 17.
Pizza company stocks
Shares of Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed last week at $65 flat, down from $67.23 the week prior. The company will announce its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday. Yum's 52-week low was in early February, at $59.68. The company's 52-week high was $74.75 in November.
Domino's closed last Friday at $49.90, a drop from $52.11 the week prior. DPZ is riding a strong Q4 earnings report which led to a fresh 52-week-high of $52.91 earlier this month. Shares in June were traded at $28.17.
Papa John's closed last week at $61.20, from $61.47 the Friday prior. PZZA turned in a new 52-week high on April 2 at $62.41. The company hit its 52-week low of $38.16 a year ago.
CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed out last week at $31.56, a drop from $32.54 the week prior. CEC hit a new 52-week high of $39.36 earlier this month after a new mobile app launch. The company's 52-week low was in August at $28.23.
Pizza Inn closed out last week at $5.75, a slight decline from $5.99 last week. PZZI hit its 52-week high of $6.23 earlier in the day on Friday and traded as low as $2.18 in June.
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