Chase Manhattan Corp.'s anticipated acquisition of a securities processing business from U.S. Trust Corp., though still hearsay, typifies the dynamics of a market that is consolidating in parallel with banking services in general. The rumored deal -- which would give Chase the U.S. Trust businesses that handle recordkeeping for institutional investors, mutual funds and unit trusts -- did not surprise too many people in those industry segments since it was reported last week in The Wall Street Journal.

U.S. Trust, which has confirmed only that the units are for sale, is just the latest example of a midsize player backing out of a market that requires economies of scale to succeed. The same drive for scale has affected other transaction-oriented businesses, from data and item processing to credit cards.

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