Fidelity Investments has enhanced its custodial platform, WealthCentral, for registered investment advisors, so that it is now possible to create block orders from the portfolio modeling and rebalancing tool, as well as conduct searches more effectively.

These and other enhancements, including automated alerts on short-term redemption fees, are in response to client feedback, Fidelity announced Tuesday. The platform is just over 1-1/2 years old, having launched in December 2008, but it has more than 600 clients-which are expected to double in the next year. Other functions include detailed fixed income holding reports.

Already key to the WealthCentral platform are an Oracle-powered customer relationship management, financial planning tools, portfolio rebalancing and trading, all on a unified, open architecture workstation.


Bloomberg Sheds Light on Real-Time Dark Pool Trades

Bloomberg says it has signed deals with an undisclosed number of operators of dark pools to allow asset managers and hedge fund customers to view in "real-time" how their trades have been matched in the pools.

An algorithm developed by Bloomberg Tradebook called B-Dark is able to give traders real-time information on where their orders are being filled. That "provides additional insight and enables more informed decisions about where to direct order flow and discretionary trades rather than shot-gunning across many venues," according to Bloomberg.

Aimed at traders of small and mid-cao equities, B-Dark specifies the level of aggression with which the algorithm will seek dark liquidity. In addition, B-Dark provides anti-gaming logic, including order randomization and real-time venue slippage analysis, to protect traders from the toxic flow that sometimes resides in dark venues.

"For far too long the buy-side has tolerated a critical lack of information when trading in dark pools and that needs to change," said Raymond M. Tierney III, chief executive officer and president of Bloomberg Tradebook, Bloomberg's agency brokerage firm. "We are encouraged that dark pool providers are joining us to ensure that dark liquidity and algorithmic trading is safer, more fair and open throughout the industry."


Muni Funds Nab $728.4M

Municipal bond mutual funds reported another healthy slug of new money last week as demand for high-quality fixed income continued to drive investment flows. Muni funds that report their figures weekly posted a net inflow of $728.4 million during the week ended Aug. 25, according to Lipper FMI.

That represents a minor dip from the preceding two weeks, each of which saw at least $900 million in new money entrusted to the weekly reporting funds. Still, it is the eighth straight week of positive flows.

Weekly reporting funds have reported outflows only three times since the beginning of last year. All funds, including those that report their figures monthly, have been reporting inflows at an average rate of $1.16 billion a week the past four weeks - the most robust pace since March.

"Municipal bond mutual fund inflows continue to display an unprecedented degree of retail demand for lower-risk tax-exempt income," Alan Schankel, managing director at Janney Montgomery Scott, writes in a report.

The unprecedented degree of demand began early last year. Investors stuffed $69 billion of new money into municipal funds in 2009, according to the Investment Company Institute, and an additional $19 billion in the first half of 2010.

ICI data shows that flows resumed their torrid pace in August, averaging more than $1.2 billion a week the past four weeks.

With state and local government debt rallying most of the summer, market gains on municipal bonds are now driving most of the growth in the muni fund industry. Municipal bond prices have spiked 4.2% this year, based on the S&P AMT-Free National Municipal Bond Index.

According to Lipper, about two-thirds of the growth in the muni fund industry's assets in 2009 came from inflows.

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