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1Q Financial Markets Review: Thrills and chills

As everyone knows, there are two kinds of roller coaster riders: those who wander away with sweaty palms and a woozy gait after one trip, and the enthusiasts who jump back in line for another go-around.

After hurtling down 40 percent in March, the biotech industry has little choice but to get back in line. The industry had gains to give back, as the BioCentury 100 index had soared 120 percent between Dec. 31, 1999 and March 3, and market watchers knew the pace was unsustainable. And despite the downdraft, the BioCentury 100 was still up 41 percent on the quarter, leading the major indicators including the tech-laden NASDAQ Composite, which was up 12 percent on the quarter.

The group also beat its bigger sibling, as the AMEX Pharma Drug index fell 3 percent in the first quarter, while the big cap stock indexes were nothing to write home about (see "1Q Roundup", A9).

By contrast, biotech growth was clearly evident in The Carson Group indices, as its Tier II group of companies valued less than $1 billion gained $31.1 billion in market cap (56 percent) to $86.2 billion on the quarter. The Tier I companies valued over $1 billion added $25 billion (13 percent) in value to $215.2 billion.

The questions now are whether the selling is a temporary hitch -

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