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H&R Block shares roll much lower in pre-market, but Twenty-First Century Fox leaps

Also in the frame before the bell were telecoms firms Comcast Corp and Chinese telecoms ZTE Corp
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A look at pre-market deals in New York

As futures trade suggests a higher start on Wall Street, in pre-market, a notable casualty was H&R Block (NYSE:HRB), the tax preparation specialist.

Its shares sank 18.34% to US$24.17 in pre-market deals despite the firm posting an earnings  beat on first quarter earnings and revenue.

The main-board listed stock reported earnings per share (EPS) of US$5.43 on revenue of US$2.39bn.

That was against analyst expectations of US$5.27 on revenue of US$2.34bn. The company also approved a 4% quarterly dividend increase to 25 cents per share.

But the group also said it had decided to close 400 tax offices that weren't generating enough business. No job losses are expected, but H & R Block will spend between US$15mln and US$20mln to cancel leases.

Telecoms is in focus and shares of Time Warner  Inc (NYSE:TWX) added nearly 4% to US$100 before the New York bell after it proposed takeover by AT&T was greenlighted by a Federal judge.

Shares of AT&T (NYSE:T) dropped around 4% to US$32.95 after the announcement.

Now that the deal has been approved, Comcast Corp (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is expected to make a bid to acquire most of Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA).

Shares in Fox  are up 8.94% before the bell to US$44, while Comcast shares are down 3.03% to US$31.40.

The US Justice Department may still object to a Comcast acquisition of Fox assets, but commentators think it would have a much harder time blocking the deal following the AT&T/Time Warner ruling.

Finally, sticking to the sector, Chinese telecoms firm ZTE Corp (HK:763) plunged over 41%    early in Hong Kong Wednesday trading hours after its shares resumed trade there and in Shenzhen.

The stock was suspended nearly two months ago, reflecting investor unease about the future of the Chinese telecommunications giant following the US sanctions.


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