On July 1, Fidelity Investments began to phase out its use of soft dollars to pay for such market data services as earnings estimates and securities quotations, the company said. The company will continue to use brokerage commissions to pay for analyst research, however.

Fidelity wants to focus its use of soft dollars "on higher-value customized research, rather than including the widely available market information," a spokesman explained. Fidelity funds bought $160 million in research with commissions last year, $40 million to $50 million of which represented market data and similar services. The company continues to feel that market data is valuable for its fund managers, but it will now pay for these services out-of-pocket.

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