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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam attends a news conference Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Indigo Ag startup moves to Memphis

Agriculture technology company Indigo Ag Inc. says it is establishing its North American commercial operations headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee.

Indigo Ag CEO David Perry and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said Wednesday that the fast-growing Boston startup plans to invest about $6.6 million and add 700 jobs over the next three years as it expands its operations in a downtown-Memphis building near the city's minor-league baseball stadium, hotels and historic Beale Street.

Indigo treats seeds with plant microbes and sells them to cotton, soybean, rice and corn farmers seeking higher crop yields. It also helps farmers market and sell crops.

Perry said Memphis's proximity to farmers who use its product is a significant reason for Indigo's decision. Indigo joins ServiceMaster and AutoZone as companies with headquarters in downtown Memphis.

 

Most CFOs predict recession by 2019

An economic downturn is looking more likely in 2019, according to a global survey of chief financial officers.

Nearly half of the U.S. executives surveyed in the Duke University Fuqua School of Business quarterly survey now believe that the U.S. will enter a recession by the end of next year. Even more — 82 percent — think that a recession will happen by the end of 2020.

The negative sentiment comes off the back of nearly a decade of growth in the U.S. and generational lows in unemployment. But there have been some warning signs on the horizon, said John Graham, a finance professor at the Fuqua School of Business, in a phone interview.

"There have certainly been (negative) things happening," said Graham, noting the trade war between the U.S. and China as well as slowdowns in European economies, "but somehow the U.S. economy has been going like a steam engine.

"I think we have been trending (down), but I was still interested and surprised that chief financial officers would think by this time next year there would be a recession."

The survey was of 500 CFOs, including 226 in the United States.

 

Consumer prices flat in November

U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in November, the best performance since prices actually fell eight months ago. The docile inflation reading reflected a big drop in the cost of gasoline and other energy products.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that the unchanged inflation reading last month followed a 0.3 percent jump in prices in October. It was the lowest reading since consumer prices actually fell 0.1 percent in March. Core inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food prices, rose 0.2 percent in November.

Over the past 12 months, consumer prices have risen 2.2 percent, and core prices are also up 2.2 percent. That is close to the Federal Reserve's 2 percent target for annual price gains.

 

Air France names first female CEO

Air France is putting a woman in charge of the airline, a first for the French carrier and a rarity in the male-dominated industry.

Air France's parent company said Wednesday that Anne Rigail will take charge of the airline on Monday. She is currently executive vice president.

The airline has been led on an interim basis by Benjamin Smith, an Air Canada veteran who was hired this year as CEO of parent Air France-KLM Group.

Air France faces contentious wage negotiations with pilots and flight attendants and has been hit by a series of damaging strikes.

Rigail, a 27-year veteran of the airline, says she is extremely honored by the promotion. Smith says Rigail has always paid special attention to employees, and he expresses confidence that the airline can meet its challenges.

An Air France spokeswoman confirmed that Rigail is the first female CEO in the airline's history, which dates to the 1933 merger of five French carriers.

Women have led other large airlines. Carolyn McCall was CEO of British low-cost carrier EasyJet for seven years until leaving this year to run British broadcaster ITV. But in recent years, only about 5 percent of all airline CEOs were women, mostly in developing countries.

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