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BUSINESS BRIEFLY

Home prices increased for second year in a row

LOS ANGELES -- National home prices marked their second year-over-year increase in April, according to a widely watched index, signaling that housing strengthened during the critical spring shopping season.

The home price index by research firm CoreLogic increased 1.1 percent over April 2011, notching the second consecutive year-over-year increase since June 2010. The index includes sales of foreclosed and other so-called distressed properties.

Excluding sales of those distressed homes, prices were up 1.9 percent from the same period a year earlier, a rate of improvement not seen since late 2006. CoreLogic forecast that prices will continue to rise in coming months due to a lack of homes available for sale.

In the Buffalo Niagara region, the median price in March rose 9.5 percent from February, and 8.4 percent from a year earlier, to $113,848, according to the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors.

-- Los Angeles Times

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Huge growth in wind energy

ATLANTA -- Six years ago, a little more than 5,200 megawatts of the nation's power came from spinning blades that towered over open lands in only the windiest states.

Today, more than 48,000 megawatts -- equal to 35 percent of new power stations built in the past five years -- come from wind turbines. A megawatt is enough to power 250 homes.

The wind energy industry argues that the rapid growth won't continue unless Congress extends a production tax credit through 2016.

The measure, which expires Dec. 31, gives 2.2 cents in tax breaks for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced by wind turbines and biomass, geothermal and landfill gas plants.

Extending the tax credit was the chief topic of Windpower 2012, the annual international conference.

-- Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Buffett discloses Lee shares

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Billionaire Warren Buffett's company now owns about 3.2 percent of Lee Enterprises' stock as Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s newspaper holdings continue to grow.

Buffett's Omaha-based company disclosed owning 1.66 million shares of Lee's stock Tuesday after the Securities and Exchange Commission refused to let him keep the investment confidential. The SEC often lets Buffett conceal investment moves while he's making them because so many investors try to copy him.

Last month, Berkshire announced a deal to buy 63 newspapers from Media General Inc. for $142 million. And Buffett has said Berkshire may buy more newspapers in the future despite the challenges the industry faces. Berkshire owns The Buffalo News, and Buffett is the paper's chairman.

Lee is a Davenport, Iowa-based publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Lincoln Journal Star and other newspapers.

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Cannon, New Cities team up

Grand Island-based Cannon Design has teamed up with Peter Ellis New Cities to expand Cannon's urban planning and city design practice.

New Cities has offices in Chicago and New Delhi, India. Peter Ellis will lead Cannon Design's urban planning and city design practice in collaboration with the firm's executive leadership, Cannon said.

Ellis and his New Delhi staff will be part of Cannon's planned expansion in India, while his U.S.-based team has joined Cannon's office in Chicago.

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NY Works plans 11 job fairs

The NY Works program will host 11 job fairs this month. Two of them will be held in Western New York.

The first job fair will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Friday at Erie Community College City Campus, 121 Ellicott St., in the school's atrium.

The next will be held June 21 at the Niagara Power Vista Center, 5777 Lewiston Road, Lewiston, with the time yet to be determined.

The job fairs will host local businesses that have the largest number of openings listed in the state's job bank. There will also be free help for job seekers, including resume reviews, job search tips and interview techniques.

For more information, visit the state Labor Department's website at www.labor.ny.gov.