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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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.