Midwest merger and acquisition activity declined slightly in the first quarter, but the index continues to reflect strength in the M&A market, according to the quarterly regional survey by Bridgepoint Merchant Banking. The Bridgepoint Midwest M&A Index declined 4.9 percent in the first quarter, after having increased 8.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013. On a year-over-year basis, the index decreased 3.3 percent from the first quarter of 2013 but remained well above the baseline of 100 at 111.4. The index tracks deals by companies in seven Midwest states, including Iowa. "Buyers and sellers continue to pursue meaningful opportunities, and Bridgepoint expects closing announcements to increase over the remainder of the year." said Matt Plooster, the firm's managing principal. "The appetite for acquisitions remains strong amid record cash stockpiles, and the capital markets remain anxious to aggressively put capital to work."