BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Fidelity Investments has just fired a shot heard round the trading world. Backing up its commitment to international investments, Fidelity today launches a trading platform that will allow retail customers to trade stocks online, in real time, in 12 global markets and eight international currencies, side by side with dollar-denominated securities. Financial advisers will have access to trading equities in 25 markets and 16 currencies.

Designed for the sophisticated investor or frequent trader, this new resource not only provides real-time quotes and trade executions in global stock markets, but also offers the opportunity to convert from the dollar into a foreign currency instantaneously, at market exchange rates.

Transactions can be settled in U.S. dollars or the local currency. Cash balances can be held in dollars or foreign currencies -- and switched with a click of the mouse. There is no requirement to have previously converted to a currency before an order is executed.

Commissions depend on the size of the order and the market in which it is executed, but are competitive with domestic schedules -- and inexpensive when you consider not only the benefits of real-time execution, but the wealth of information provided by the site.

Global market information: Recognizing that each global market has different size "ticks" and market spreads, the site provides responsive information for each order, about whether the market is open to accept the order, and when market orders will be executed, as well as any market regulations regarding limit orders.

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