Fidelity Investments decided this week that it will not charge an annual fee to clients with low account balances if retail assets for their households total at least $100,000 or they have recently opened a retirement account, a company spokeswoman said today.

The fee has been criticized by industry observers who say fund complexes shouldn’t charge investors for low fund balances when declines may be the result of poorly performing markets. In an interview today Fidelity refused to comment on its investors’ reaction to the minimum-balance fee.

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