As we approach the annual day of love this week, traders were obviously getting in the mood for pizza. Stocks got a bounce in value over last week with regard to the four brands monitored by this site. That good news was even underscored last week by lower cheese and natural gas prices and flat-to-mild increases in grain and fuel prices.
The prices cheese fetched last week were decidedly lower than they have been for months, falling to $1.61 Friday from $1.74 the previous trading week's close. In fact, cheese prices haven't been this low since last October.
Compared to last week, wheat was 5 to 16 cents higher. Kansas City U.S. No. 1 Hard Red Winter, ordinary protein rail bid was 5 3/4 to 7 3/4 cents higher from $4.61 1/4 to $5.49 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 9 cents higher from $4.38 to $4.49 per bushel. Minneapolis and Duluth U.S. No. 1 Dark Northern Spring, 14.0 to 14.5 percent protein rail, was 7 3/4 to 11 3/4 cents higher from $6.60 1/2 to $6.81 1/2 per bushel. Portland U.S. Soft White wheat rail was 9 to 16 cents higher from $4.80 to $4.83 1/2 per bushel.
Gasoline and diesel fuel
Fuel prices this morning were up about a penny per gallon from this time last week and down about a nickel from last month, but still well above last year's prices. Regular this morning sold for $2.28 on average, up from $2.27 last Monday morning and down from $2.35 last month. But the price a year ago was just $1.70 a gallon, a trend that has been holding for some time now.
The same variations in price were repeated for mid-grade, which sold for $2.55 a gallon this morning, and premium, which sold for $2.80 a gallon. Diesel, however, has been less volatile over recent months with the average price of a gallon this morning going for $2.51, the same as last week and down just 2 cents from last month. But diesel fuel also was more than 50 cents a gallon lower in price last year at this time.
Natural gas spot prices fell at most locations this report week (Feb. 1-8). The Henry Hub spot price fell from $3.12 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) last Wednesday to $3.05/MMBtu yesterday, after hitting a low of $2.92/MMBtu on Monday.
At the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex), the March 2017 contract price fell 4 cents from $3.168/MMBtu last Wednesday to $3.126/MMBtu yesterday. Net withdrawals from working gas totaled 152 Bcf for the week ending Feb. 3. Working natural gas stocks are 2,559 Bcf, which is 11 perce t less than the year-ago level and 2 percent more than the five-year (2012–16) average for this week.
The natural gas plant liquids composite price at Mont Belvieu, Texas, rose by $1.02, closing at $7.69/MMBtu for the week ending Feb. 3. This increase was driven by a 26 percent increase in ethane prices. The price of natural gasoline, propane, butane, and isobutane also rose by 16, 12, 15, and 13 percent, respectively.
According to Baker Hughes, for the week ending Friday, Feb. 3, the natural gas rig count remained flat at 145. The number of oil-directed rigs rose by 17 to 583. The total rig count climbed by 17, and it now stands at 729.
Pizza company stocks
It was a very rosy week for pizza stocks last week. Domino's Pizza, for instance, rose from $175.37 at the open Monday, to $11 higher on Friday at the close when the stock was fetching $186.37. Stockholders were no doubt celebrating equally as much at Pizza Hut parent, Yum Brands, which closed Friday at $68, up from $66.30 at the opening of trading last Monday.
Papa John's saw a similar leap forward in value over the week, beginning Monday at $81.26 and then wrapping up Friday at $85.58. Finally, take-and-bake chain, Papa Murphy's also got a lift from an opening price on Monday oft $4.45 to the closing bell Friday, when the stock brought $4.70.