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Cowles Co. to buy Montana TV stations

The Cowles Co. announced plans to buy a group of seven television stations in Montana.

Spokane-based Cowles, which publishes The Spokesman-Review and owns television station KHQ, is acquiring the seven Montana stations from Max Media of Montana Co.

They include KULR-TV, the Billings NBC affiliate; KTMF-TV (ABC/Fox) in Missoula; KTMF-LD (ABC/Fox) in Kalispell; KWYB-TV (ABC/Fox) in Butte; KWYB-LD (ABC/Fox) in Bozeman; KFBB-TV (ABC/Fox) in Great Falls; and KHBB-TV (ABC/Fox) in Helena.

The deal needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission. The companies expect to close the transaction by Dec. 1.

Keyboard Cat copyright case settled

Spokane’s Keyboard Cat creator Charlie Schmidt has settled a copyright-infringement lawsuit filed against videogame companies Warner Brothers Home Entertainment and 5th Cell Media.

Schmidt was joined in the suit by Christopher Torres, creator of Nyan Cat, another YouTube sensation.

The settlement, in U.S. District Court for Central California, provides no details on the compensation paid to Torres and Schmidt.

In April, the two sued Warner Brothers, the publisher of the game “Scribblenauts,” alleging it included images of the cats without permission or compensation.

Neither company acknowledged wrongdoing in the settlement.

Both Keyboard Cat and Nyan Cat have become Internet memes. Nyan Cat flies through space while Schmidt’s cat, Fatso, became a Web sensation in 2007 when an edited video of the animal playing an electronic keyboard was posted on the Web.

Factory output grows at best pace in years

WASHINGTON – U.S. factory activity expanded last month at the fastest pace in 2 1/2 years, an encouraging sign that manufacturing could lift economic growth and hiring in the coming months.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said its manufacturing index rose in September to 56.2, the highest since April 2011. That’s up from 55.7 in August and the fourth straight increase in the index. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

Manufacturers added jobs last month at the fastest pace in more than a year and ramped up production, the survey showed. They also received new orders at a healthy pace, though slower than in August.

Home prices undergo 12.4 percent increase

WASHINGTON – U.S. home prices climbed 12.4 percent in August from a year ago, fueled by more buyers bidding on a limited supply of houses.

Real estate provider CoreLogic said prices also increased 0.9 percent in August from July. But the gain was half the 1.8 percent increase in July from June. The group said higher mortgage rates and the end of the summer buying season likely slowed the gain.

Prices rose in every state compared with the previous year, and in 99 of the 100 largest cities. Akron, Ohio, was the only area to report a decline.

Mortgage rates have risen about a full percentage point since May. Some analysts worry that higher rates could slow home sales.