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H&R Block: Financial Winners & Losers

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Financial stocks breathed some life the day before the holiday weekend as the weekly jobs report came in better than expected.

Financial stocks were for the most part in the black.

The Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) chugged 1% higher, to $14.36, during late morning trading.

Winners included Goldman Sachs (GS - Get Report), up 3.4% to $144.57; Barclays (BCS), up 3.2% to $19.92.

H&R Block (HRB - Get Report) shares were surging as high as 9.7% on strong trading volume after the tax services provider sought to calm investor fears that it was not inadequately reserved for potential mortgage repurchases stemming from its former subprime mortgage business, Option One.

H&R Block shares hit a 52-week-low on Thursday of $12.51. The stock has fallen 21% since Aug. 2. CEO Alan Bennett said during the Overland Park, Kansas-based company's fiscal first quarter earnings call on Thursday that while investors seem to be concerned about the company's contingent loan repurchase obligations that "seems to be subject to some speculation that is not based on fact."

H&R Block had reported a loss of 4 cents a share for the quarter.

"We made no change to our aggregate reserve this quarter," Bennett continued. "Recent market speculation regarding potential losses does not relate back to any facts that we have observed. We have not seen any adverse change in our level of claimed payments."

H&R Block set aside $243 million in the spring of 2008 for loan repurchases out of Option One. The company has not added to that level, Bennett says. "We believe our financial reserves here are adequate."

H&R Block shares were surging while shares of Jackson Hewitt (JTX), a tax services competitor, tumbled 5.4% to 87 cents a share. Shares of Jackson Hewitt, which report's first quarter earnings on Sept. 8, have been trading under the critical $2 level since early May.

Several regional bank shares were also slightly in the red including Marshall & Ilsley (MI), Huntington Bancshares (HBAN) and First Horizon (FHN), all falling less than 1% during late morning trading.

--Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact the writer of this article, click here: Laurie Kulikowski.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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