If a broker tries to persuade you to buy class-B mutual-fund shares instead of class A, make sure it's in your best interest, not just his. The sec is investigating whether certain brokers favor B shares because of fatter commissions. Even though B shares bear no up-front sales charge, they normally carry high early-redemption and annual fees and generate lower long-term returns than class-A shares.
Paging Online Traders
Are you the kind of active trader who worries that your stocks might head south while you're out getting coffee? Help is on the way. Last week Fidelity and Bell South Wireless announced that those who trade at least 36 times a year will soon be able to check quotes and trade stocks on the go with a RIM two-way pager and Fidelity's new InstantBroker wireless service ($50 a month). Those who use standard pagers can also have updates and stock alerts sent their way.
Real Deals on Power PCs
Don't worry if you missed out on a cheap PC late last year. Considering the better deals this month, holiday shoppers may be the ones with regrets. Retailers sold mainly entry-level computers but now are overstocked with higher-powered systems. Radio Shack has a fully loaded 333-MHz Compaq Presario for $999, and Best Buy is offering a similar Packard Bell system at the same low price.