Fidelity Investments has augmented its international trading platform, enabling retail investors, advisers and brokers to trade foreign stocks and currencies in real time. The platform gives retail investors access to 12 foreign markets and eight currencies, along with third-party research, news, real-time market data and quotes, and telephone access to international trading specialists 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Broker/dealers and financial advisers have access to trading equities in 25 markets and 16 currencies. The platform can convert dollars into foreign currencies instantly, in current market exchange rates.

The platform is only available to those with $1 million or more in their account or who make a minimum of 120 trades a year. Previously, individual investors could only conduct international trades over the phone.

Fidelity said it expanded the platform in light of the increasingly global economy and investor demand for further diversification. In conjunction with the new offering, Fidelity released a Viewpoint market commentary on how international equity exposure can reduce risk and potentially boost returns. For investors with an investment time horizon of five years or more, Fidelity recommends 30% of their equity exposure be in international stocks. And true to this philosophy, Fidelity recently expanded the international exposure to international stocks in its Fidelity Freedom funds.

Certainly, foreign markets have recently been far outpacing the U.S. Between the market's bottom on March 9 and the end of August, the S&P 500 Index rose 51%, but China's Hang Seng Index rallied 74%, India's Sensex Index delivered a stunning 92%, Mexico's Bolsa Index gained 66% and Spain's Inex 35 Index soared 67%.

"When you consider that over the last 10 years, 80% of the world's best-performing stocks were listed outside the U.S., it is understandable why investors are increasing their focus on international investing," said James C. Burton, president of Fidelity's retail brokerage business. "When we asked investors what would make their international trading experience successful, the top responses were an easy-to-use trading platform, availability of research and fast trade executions."

The new offering, combined with the recent launch of Fidelity Clearing Canada, "reinforces Fidelity's commitment to building a global trading platform to support the evolving needs of clients," said Richard N. Hart III, senior vice president, National Financial.


(c) 2009 Money Management Executive and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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