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BANKS

Bank lets clients OK overdrafts via text

NEW YORK — If you’re willing to pay a $35 fee to overdraw your checking account, just text your approval to the bank.

Under a pilot program at Bank of America, customers would be able to instantly reverse a declined transaction.

News of the test program comes just a year after the bank stopped permitting transactions that overdraw a customer’s account at the register. At the time, Bank of America touted the decision as a consumer-friendly policy that would prevent customers from unknowingly overdrafting their checking accounts and incurring penalty fees.

The company’s decision was also a response to regulatory changes; a rule that went into effect last summer prohibits banks from enrolling customers in overdraft programs without their active consent.

STOCKS

H&R Block tumbles on fears about mortgages

NEW YORK — Shares of H&R Block Inc. led the S&P 500 downward Monday on renewed fears that the company will be dragged back into a subprime mortgage mess.

A group of mortgage bond investors may try to force H&R Block’s former mortgage unit to buy back billions of dollars in defaulted home loans, according to a report by Reuters news agency, sending shares sliding nearly 8 percent.

Calls to an attorney representing the group were not returned. An H&R Block spokesman issued a statement that it had not received any requests, and could not comment on actions by outside parties.

Morgan Stanley analyst Vance Edelson said that many — but not all — Block investors had grown complacent about the mortgage issue over the past year. The topic has been raised on every recent conference call. “This has remained part of the investor debate, because many investors have realized that H&R Block is not entirely out of the woods on this issue.”

CANADA

Quebec unveils plan to develop northern territory

LEVIS — Quebec’s provincial government unveiled Monday a massive plan to develop Northern Quebec while at the same time environmentally protecting half of the area, which is almost 10 times the size of New York state.

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