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Fidelity Enhances Web Offerings

Fidelity Investments said Tuesday its online brokerage component ended 1998 with 3 million online accounts, more than triple the number during the same period a year ago.

The company also announced three new Internet services to make it easier for its customers to manage their investments and finances online.

Of Fidelity's 3 million online accounts, 2 million are personal investing accounts a 1 million are employer-sponsored retirement plans. The company also said 70 percent of stock trades are now done online compared to just 7 percent at the beginning of 1997. Also, new accounts opened on the Web doubled in 1998.

The company also rolled out several new Web services Tuesday. Fidelity BillPay will enable brokerage account holders with at least $10,000 in assets to schedule a payment to almost any individual or business in the United States over the Web or by touch-tone phone 24 hours a day.

The bill pay service will be free for the first three months. Thereafter, it will cost $4.95 a month for customers with at least $100,000 in assets and $9.95 for all other customers.

Fidelity's life insurance component is also providing variable annuity customers with 24-hour access to balance information over the Web or phone, giving customers the ability to view the value of their annuities, along with any other Fidelity accounts.

In addition, the company added BigCharts, an online securities charting tool, to its Web site. BigCharts allows investors to compare up to 10 symbols on a single chart and track prices using a variety of time ranges.

Paul Ciriello, president of Fidelity Interactive Co., said Fidelity is advancing its Web offerings to keep pace with the increasing number of investors who want to track their personal finances online.

"Fidelity wants to meet investors' needs by developing a destination for personal investing online -- whether they want to place trades, research college savings strategies or plan for retirement," he said.

Ciriello said the new technologies will be an integral part of Fidelity's plan to advance its online offerings.

"Fidelity customers don't need to wade through the overload of financial information on the Internet to track, manage and research their investments regularly."