Commodities: Traders lay a golden egg in pizza restaurateurs' baskets during Easter week

| by S.A. Whitehead
Commodities: Traders lay a golden egg in pizza restaurateurs' baskets during Easter week

Aside from the mounting price of vehicle fuel, it was a very happy Easter week for pizza operators, including the four major brands monitored here on the trading floors. Prices of cheese, wheat and natural gas were all down, while stock prices were up over the week's trading activity. 

Cheese prices again continued to fall last week, settling in at $1.53 at the close of markets Friday, down 2 cents from the previous week and 6 cents from two weeks ago. 

Compared to last week, cash bids for wheat were mostly lower, according to the U.S.D.A., which also estimated 47.3 million acres of all wheat plantings, up from 46.0 million last year, but still near the lowest level in 100 years. Winter wheat acres also remained at a century-low 32.7 million acres, while the estimate for spring wheat was bumped up, from 11.0 million acres in 2017 to 12.6 million acres in 2018.

The U.S.D.A. said last week's export sales and shipments of wheat totaled 13 million and 12.1 million bushels respectively, another bearish week that has total wheat shipments down 9 percent from a year ago.  

At the markets, wheat ranged from 47 3/4 cents lower to 1/4 cent higher. Kansas City U.S. No. 1 Hard Red Winter, ordinary protein rail bid was 3 3/4 to 47 3/4 cents lower, from $5.37 1/4-$5.52 1/4 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 4 cents lower, from $4.41-$4.63 per bushel.  Minneapolis and Duluth U.S. No. 1 Dark Northern Spring, 14.0 to 14.5 percent protein rail, was 24 1/2 cents lower. from $7.131/2-$7.43 1/2 per bushel.  Portland U.S. Soft White wheat rail was steady to 1/4 cent higher, from $5.40-$5.66 per bushel.

Vehicle fuel

Natural gas
Natural gas spot prices fell at most locations with warmer weather this report week during the seven-day period ending Wednesday, March 28. The Henry Hub spot price fell from $2.70/MMBtu to $2.64/MMBtu over the week.

At the Nymex, the April 2018 contract expired last Tuesday at $2.691/MMBtu. The May 2018 contract price increased to $2.698/MMBtu, up 3 cents Wednesday to Wednesday.

Net withdrawals from working gas totaled 63 Bcf on March 23. Working natural gas stocks are 1,383 Bcf, which is 33 percent lower than the year-ago level and 20 percent lower than the five-year (2013-17) average for this week.

The natural gas plant liquids composite price at Mont Belvieu, Texas, rose by 19 cents, averaging $7.45/MMBtu on March 28. The price of natural gasoline and isobutane both rose by 3 percent, while the price of propane and butane both rose by 2 percent.

According to Baker Hughes, on March 20, the natural gas rig count increased by one over the week, to 190. The number of oil-directed rigs rose by four to 804. The total rig count increased by five and it now stands at 995.

Pizza company stocks
All four pizza brands monitored by this site showed nice gains over the week's trading activity. Domino's Pizza closed Friday at $233.56, spiking back up after a two-week decline which took the stock's value down to $226.65 at the previous Friday's close. Pizza Hut experienced a healthy upward curve, too, closing Friday at $85.13 after falling the previous week to $81.68. 

Papa John's closed Friday at $57.30, up from $56.63 the prior week's close. Take-and-bake brand, Papa Murphy's followed suit, closing Friday at $4.86, up 40 cents from the previous week's ending number of $5.46. 

Photo: iStock

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Cheese, Delivery, Dough, Financial Management, 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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