The eight benchmark ISEQ equity indices all showed returns of over 16% last year, and the ISEQ was one of the top performing indices in Europe in 2012.

The Irish Stock Exchange's quarterly statistics shows that the ISEQ overall index grew by 17.1% in 2012 to 3,397. It outperformed other major equity indices last year such as the FTSE 100, the S&P 500 and the NYSE US 100.

The ISE also said that its smaller to mid sized companies sector performed strongly, with the ESM index up 27.6% in 2012 and the small cap registering 18.1%. 

It noted that that financial index rose by 37.2% over the year.

Trades in shares quoted on the ISE last year were at their second highest level ever recorded on the Irish market at 2.42 million. They had reached a high of 2.52 million trades in 2008. The ISE said it has now recorded its fifth year in a row of over 2 million trades.

Turnover in Irish shares rose by 14% in the last quarter of the year, with equity turnover of €37.3 billion in 2012. This gave an annual growth rate of 4.7%.

The Irish Stock Exchange also said that its ISEQ bond indices rose again last year after their strong performance in 2011. Five of the six indices delivered double digit growth with four showing ''exceptional returns'' of more than 20%.

Despite a fall in the number of trades, turnover in Irish Government Bonds and treasury bills rose by 2.8% last year to €67.1 billion. The primary dealer network for Government bonds was also expanded during the year with the addition of Morgan Stanley as a member firm of the ISE.