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Morgan Stanley wins with losses
Reporting a loss of $0.38 a share was in fact a gain for Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS). The bank surprised everyone by beating analyst estimates of losses around $0.62 per share, outperforming rivals like Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS). The bank had growth in most of its sectors and lost only 10% revenue in FICC (fixed income, currency, and commodities) compared to Goldman Sachs' 53% loss. The bottom line was aided by strong equity and sales trading, a resilient fixed income, and a leading position in several big technology IPOs. The bank is well-positioned and improvement in trading shows the bank is getting an edge over its rivals. Surprisingly, the company seems to be keeping its growth cost in check, with equal growth in net revenue and total noninterest expenses. Read more at Reuters.

Express Scripts to buy Medco for $29 billion
In one of the largest deals of the year, Express Scripts (Nasdaq: ESRX) is looking to buy smaller rival Medco Health Solutions (NYSE: MHS). Express Scripts will pay $28.80 in cash and 0.81 of an Express Scripts share for each Medco share, which, as of Thursday morning, were valued by the deal at $71.36, a 28% increase from Wednesday's closing price. The deal will make Express Scripts one of the biggest suppliers in the industry. Executives have said change in the industry thanks to health-care reform makes this the perfect time to create such a union. But some believe the companies will encounter opposition from tightening regulations by the Federal Trade Commission. Read more at The New York Times.

Apple is a hoarder
We all wish we had Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) dilemma: What to do with giant amounts of cash? The technology giant has built up a $76.2 billion cash hoard and no long-term debt. Some investors wonder what the company is planning to do with such a stash. Some critics say the money should be given back to investors through dividends, but growing technology companies tend to shun them. For other investors, the money provides a sense of security that their company has such a strong balance sheet despite overall economic uncertainty. Other large tech companies, including Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Cisco Systems, have also been stockpiling cash (though these two do pay dividends). Apple is now in a position in which it could turn to acquisitions or invest in more growth. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

  Meanwhile in Greece
After calling an emergency summit, European leaders agreed they are now willing to let Greece default temporarily under a crisis response plan. The plan will allow the European Financial Stability Facility rescue fund to take precautionary measures with earlier loans, recapitalize banks, and intervene in the secondary bond market. The new Greek bailout would be around 115 billion euros and its payback period could be extended to 15 years. Greek bankers and officials from banks holding large amounts of Greek debt, including Deutsche Bank (NYSE: DB) and French bank BNP Paribas, weren't in the summit, but were available in the corridors. The draft of the plan seems to be getting a positive reaction as European stocks rallied at the announcement of the conclusions. Read more at Reuters.

So there you have it, the top financial stories for this afternoon. Check throughout the day for commentary on these and other stories. Also, follow us on Twitter, on Facebook, or through our email digests.

Michelle Zayed owns no shares of any companies mentioned in the story. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Microsoft, and MedcoHealth Solutions. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Microsoft, and MedcoHealth Solutions. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.