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NOBEL PRIZES WILL RETAIN CURRENT VALUE

Nobel prizes, which have more than doubled in value in recent years, will remain at around their present levels in the future, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Institute said Wednesday.

The 1992 prizes, to be announced next month for peace, literature, medicine, physics, chemistry and economics, are each worth a record $1.16 million, up from $530,000 each in 1989.Economic problems in Sweden "have certainly underlined that we cannot go any higher" in real terms, said Geir Lundestad, director of the Norwegian Institute, where the winner of the Peace Prize is to be named Oct. 16.

Other prizes are announced in Stockholm.

"The doubling in the value of the prize (since 1989) reflected the much improved economy of the Nobel Foundation, but it was decided quite some time ago we had reached the level we would remain at," Lundestad told Reuters.

"There are reserves which make it possible to maintain that level," he added.

Sweden moved to crush speculation of a devaluation by briefly jacking up interest rates to 500 percent last week and announced deep cuts in its welfare system at the weekend. Devaluation would cut the value of the prizes abroad.