Commodities: Heavy trading week brings a mixed bag of results

| by S.A. Whitehead
Commodities: Heavy trading week brings a mixed bag of results

In last week's heavy trading, pizza stocks and pizza commodities were each headed in different directions as far as overall value is concerned. Cheese and wheat, for example, both fetched higher prices last week, while gas leveled off and natural gas fell shortly in the midst of notably warmer than normal winter. Pizza stocks were also split in their performances over the week with half the brands monitored by this site improving in value and half drawing fewer dollars over the course of the five days. 

Cheese producers finally had a reason to say "cheese" last week, when trade values for the commodities spiked for the first time in months, rising at one point more than $0.20, before settling back down to close the week at $1.74, up a nickel from the previous Friday's value. 

Wheat was 4 cents lower to 19 cents higher during trading last week, according to the USDA Agricultural Market News Service.

Kansas City U.S. No. 1 Hard Red Winter, ordinary protein rail bid was 3 1/4 cents higher from $4.53 1/2 to $5.43 1/2 per bushel. Kansas City U.S. No. 2 Soft Red winter rail bid was not quoted.  

St. Louis truck U.S. No. 2 Soft Red Winter terminal bid was 12 to 19 cents higher from $4.29 to $4.40 per bushel. Minneapolis and Duluth U.S. No. 1 Dark Northern Spring, 14.0 to 14.5 percent protein rail, was 4 3/4 cents lower to 10 1/4 cents higher from $6.48 3/4 to $6.73 3/4 per bushel. Portland U.S. Soft White wheat rail was 2 cents lower to 7 1/2 cents higher from $4.64 to $4.74 1/2 per bushel.

Gasoline and diesel fuel
Fuel prices appear to be hitting a plateau over the last week. All grades of gas were either a little lower in price or flat from last week and last month, but still up from last year's rock-bottom prices. For example, a year ago motorists paid $1.75 for a gallon of regular, while this morning, that same amount of gas went for $2.27. Though that's substantially higher than last year, it's down 4 cents from last week and 9 cents from last month.

For all other grades and diesel, prices were holding steady from the last week and down slightly from last month. Mid-grade was at $2.55, while premium was at $2.79. Both grades were the same as last week in price, though down 6 cents from last month and up 52 cents from last year at this time. Diesel was also flat from a week ago, but down 2 cents from last month and up 49 cents a gallon from last year at this time. 

Natural gas
Natural gas spot prices fell at most locations this report week, ending Wednesday, Feb. 1. The Henry Hub spot price fell from $3.25 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) last Wednesday to $3.12/MMBtu yesterday. At the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex), the February 2017 contract expired Friday at $3.391/MMBtu. The March 2017 contract decreased to $3.168/MMBtu, down 18 cents Wednesday to Wednesday.

Net withdrawals from working gas totaled 87 billion cubic feet (Bcf) for the week ending Jan. 27. Working natural gas stocks are 2,711 Bcf, which is 9 percent less than the year-ago level and 2 percent greater than the five-year (2012–16) average for this week. The natural gas plant liquids composite price at Mont Belvieu, Texas, rose by 4 cents, closing at $6.67/MMBtu for the week ending Jan. 27. The prices of natural gasoline and ethane fell by 14 and 12 percent, respectively. The prices of propane, butane, and isobutane rose by 5, 13 and 11 percent, respectively.

For the second week in a row, considerably warmer-than-normal temperatures resulted in net withdrawals falling below the five-year average. Temperatures in the Lower 48 states averaged 44 degrees, which is 11 degrees higher than the normal and 10 degrees higher than last year at this time. Temperatures rose 4 degrees for the week on average in the Lower 48 states. Temperatures in most regions outside the Pacific and Mountain regions were significantly above seasonal norms for the period. 

Pizza company stocks
Pizza stocks showed a split performance as far as their values were concerned. Pizza Hut parent, Yum Brands, and Domino's both posted gains on the week, while Papa John's and Papa Murphy's both posted losses. 

Domino's opened last Monday at $171.13, and the stock rose through the week to close at $175.89 Friday. Yum Brands' Pizza Hut  echoed that performance, rising over the course of last week's trading from $65.88 at Monday's open, up to $66.23 Friday at the close. 

The two "papa" brands monitored by this site, however, both lost value. Papa John's fell to $81.40 on Friday, after opening at $84.45 on Monday, while Papa Murphy's closed the week at $4.41, down 8 cents from Monday's opening bid of $4.49. 


Photo: iStock

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Cheese, Financial News

S.A. Whitehead

Award-winning veteran print and broadcast journalist, Shelly Whitehead, has spent most of the last 30 years reporting for TV and newspapers, including the former Kentucky and Cincinnati Post and a number of network news affiliates nationally. She brings her cumulative experience as a multimedia storyteller and video producer to the web-based pages of and after a lifelong “love affair” with reporting the stories behind the businesses that make our world go ‘round. Ms. Whitehead is driven to find and share news of the many professional passions people take to work with them every day in the pizza and quick-service restaurant industry. She is particularly interested in the growing role of sustainable agriculture and nutrition in food service worldwide and is always ready to move on great story ideas and news tips.

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