After a slow start to 2013, deal flow within the middle market is proving to be just about as lackluster as it was a year earlier. The pause in dealmaking was especially apparent after the bustling fourth quarter, when many a dealmaker raced to close transactions under the more favorable 2012 tax rates.

In the first quarter, roughly 437 deals closed in the middle market, which we define as deals with price tags of $1 billion and less, according to data from Thomson Reuters. That's a 9 percent drop when held up against the 477 middle-market transactions in the first quarter of 2012. Deal value in 2013 in the first quarter, however, scored slightly better and hovered at $52.8 billion, whereas first quarter deals in 2012 had a cumulative value of $51.4 billion.

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