Returns on private equity investments fell in the third quarter, according to Venture Economics, a subsidiary of Securities Data Co.

The decline is the first in any quarter since 1992, and the biggest since 1990.

The data agency's private equity performance index, released Monday, declined 3.6% for venture capital funds and 3.1% for leveraged buyout funds in the quarter that ended Sept. 30, the most recent period for which data are available.

"The extreme volatility in the public markets in the last 18 months has had a negative impact on distributions of stock and cash back to investors," said Jesse Reyes, director of Venture Economics.

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