Some relief at pump, but floods keep prices high

May 22, 2011 | by Alicia Kelso


Average block cheese prices inched up last week on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, coming in at an average of $1.66. The previous week's average was $1.62.

Prices were $1.63 Monday, $1.65 Tuesday, $1.66 Wednesday, $1.69 Thursday and $1.70 Friday. Prices remain close to last year's average of $1.63 per pound.


Wheat prices hit $10 last week after hovering in the mid-$9 mark for a couple of months. The week’s average, however, was $9.69 on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, up from $9.39 the previous week.

Wheat closed at $9.10 Monday, $9.36 Tuesday, $9.96 Wednesday, $10.06 Thursday and $9.99 Friday.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded gasoline is $3.84, a much-welcomed drop from $3.95 the previous week, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.

Prices were down slightly from a month ago, when they were $3.85, but remain up significantly from this time last year, when consumers were paying $2.80 at the pump.

Mid-range unleaded is $3.98, while premium unleaded today is $4.11.

The nationwide average for diesel fuel is $4.05, down from $4.12 last week. Diesel prices are down from $4.13 a month ago, but remain up from $3.05 a year ago.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, crude oil prices caused high gas prices through April, but those prices remain stubborn because of unplanned refinery outages from the Mississippi River flooding, as well as its impact on refinery production and distribution.

Natural Gas

The threat of shut-in production arising from lower Mississippi River flooding likely sent prices up temporarily at nearly all domestic pricing points over the week, but the gains failed to stick. The Henry Hub price lost a modest 7 cents per million Btu (MMBtu) (1.9 percent) to close at $4.15 per MMBtu on May 18.

Pizza company stocks

Shares in Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed at $56.26 Friday, a slight drop from $54.86 the previous week. The company set its 52-week high of $54.98 in April. Yum! traded at a 52-week low of $38.53 in July 2010.

Domino's finished last week at $24.52, another climb from the prior 52-week high of $23.53 last week and up almost $5 from a month ago, at $18.57. Domino's traded as low as $10.99 in June 2010.

Papa John's finished at $33.74, up from $32.76 the previous week and the company’s 52-week high. Papa John's traded at a 52-week low of $22.78 in July 2010.

Shares in CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed at $40.39 Friday, a slight dip from $40.46 the previous Friday. CEC traded as high as $40.90 in December 2010, and a 52-week low of $30.44 in August 2010.

California Pizza Kitchen closed at $16.87 Friday, a boost from $16.24 the previous week. CPKI traded as high as $20.79 in May 2010 and as low as $13.19 in July 2010.

Pizza Inn turned in at $2.35 Friday, an increase from $2.26 the previous week which was the company's 52-week high. PZZI hit its 52-week low of $1.77 in May 2010.

Photo provided by USACEpublicaffairs.


Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability , California Pizza Kitchen , Cheese , Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza , Domino's Pizza , Papa John's , Pizza Hut

Alicia Kelso / Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with, and has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, and Franchise Asia magazine.
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