ECONOMIST ISSUES STERN TAX WARNING - A top figure in the Economic and Social Research Institute has warned against tax cuts and increased public expenditure in next month's Budget. In an article in the Irish Times today, Professor John Fitzgerald also warned of the danger of a bubble in the property market, fuelled by inflationary expectations. He says that, given the high rates of inflation in the labour and property markets, it would be unwise to loosen fiscal policy in the Budget.

***

AN POST WINS REPRIEVE - An Post has won a reprieve from further deregulation of the postal service which would have meant its revenues falling by £130 million a year. The victory for An Post arose after the European Commission in Brussels suffered a major setback in its efforts to effectively privatise the European postal service, according to the Irish Independent today.

***

WOODSIDE PETROLEUM CONSIDERING NEW BID - Australian oil and gas concern Woodside Petroleum said it was considering a fresh bid by Royal Dutch/Shell, the Anglo-Dutch energy group, to take a majority stake in it, according to ft.com. After being rebuffed by the Woodside board in June, Shell said its new bid was designed to force an extraordinary meeting of shareholders to vote on the offer.

***

PS2 HITS THE SHOPS TODAY - Half a million Playstation 2 games consoles are going on sale across Europe today - but most of them are already sold before they even hit the stores. The launch of the 128-bit consoles with built-in digital video disc players had already been delayed because of a shortage of supplies - especially computer chips - at Sony's only PS2 factory near Tokyo, according to a report on bbc.co.uk's business service.