Middle-market dealmaking in the first quarter of 2015 performed about as well as the same period the previous year. That may sound like damning with faint praise, but given that 2014 was the best year since 2007, an on-par quarter is worth celebrating.

Confidence continues, as demonstrated by the results of Mergers & Acquisitions' monthly surveys. The outlook for the year remains rosy, according to our Mid-Market M&A Conditions Index (MACI), a barometer sponsored by PwC. Respondents mentioned several factors for their ongoing optimism, including consumer confidence, which reached a 10-year high in the first quarter and is driven in part by a boost to discretionary spending as families paid less for fuel. One new development adding some urgency to closing deals quickly is the widely held belief that interest rates will rise later in the year.

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