One booming growth area on Wall Street — bonuses — has lost its momentum, a weakening particularly noticeable at banking companies involved in mergers.

Combinations of commercial banks and investment banks have indeed been the story this year. One of the biggest deals — Chase Manhattan Corp.’s bid to buy J.P. Morgan & Co. — is expected to close by yearend. Others have included Credit Suisse Group’s purchase of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Inc. and UBS AG’s pickup of Paine Webber Group Inc., both of which have closed.

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