Fidelity Investments, the National Securities Clearing Corp. and a group of fund companies and broker/dealers have partnered in a yearlong project to develop the technology to time-stamp mutual fund trades. They are hoping that by time-stamping trade orders that come via outside intermediaries, only those orders made by the so-called "hard 4 p.m." close will be allowed to get through - thus eradicating illegal late trading.

Also, a secondary goal of the nation's No. 1 fund company and the trade-processing leader, is to keep the 4 p.m. deadline for a day's orders, so as not to penalize the nation's 95 million mutual fund shareholders. Janice Morris-Hatch, a partner with Fidelity's venture capital division, Fidelity Ventures, is leading the project. Ann Bergin, managing director at NSCC's counterpart, the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp., is the point person at NSCC/DTCC.

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