IRISH LABOUR COSTS LOW - The Irish Times reports on figures yesterday from the EU statistical office Eurostat, which showed that labour costs in the Republic are among the lowest in the EU.

Portugal, Greece and Spain are the only member states where labour is cheaper than in Ireland and Irish labour costs are lower than in the US.

WARNING ON FUEL COSTS - The paper also reports on a warning from the Irish Energy Centre that escalating fuel costs are threatening competitiveness.

Virgil Bolger of the centre, which is part of Department of Public Enterprise, also said that Ireland's soaring energy demands were posing a 'significant threat' to legally binding commitments to limit the emissions of greenhouse gases, according to the paper.

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NEW EURO ROW OVER BUDGETS - There was a further clash in Brussels yesterday over plans to co-ordinate budgetary proposals, in advance of their delivery, reports the Irish Independent.

The paper says Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy disputed comments by his Belgian counterpart that a new advance discussion procedure was agreed.

Mr McCreevy said that no decision had been taken and that every EU State was entitled to its own budgetary and tax policies.

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DOCOMO 3G LAUNCH TO BE DELAYED - Only two out of 11 handset manufacturers that signed contracts will be ready for the launch of NTT DoCoMo's third generation mobile phone service in May, according to Keiji Tachikawa, DoCoMo president, quoted in the Financial Times.

Between them, Matsushita Communications Industrial and NEC are to launch four handsets, including a phone that can take and send video, Mr Tachikawa said.

The absence of Nokia, the world's leading handset maker, and Ericsson, from the list is an embarrassment to the European industry. Both companies have spent several years and large amounts of money developing the handsets with DoCoMo.

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SHAREHOLDER REVOLT AT PRU? - Prudential, the UK's second largest insurance company, was facing a revolt by major shareholders yesterday, says The Independent.

This follows yesterday's shock £21bn sterling takeover of American General, a US counterpart, in what would be the largest ever transatlantic financial services deal.