Investors in the London stock market are hoping for another bullish year after a rally in 2005 saw the FTSE 100 Index rise 16.7 per cent and shares outperform house prices for the first time since 1999.

Soaring metal and oil prices pushed mining stocks and energy stocks up as the index of leading shares reached a four-and-a-half year high of 5647.2 on Thursday before retreating 19.5 points yesterday to end the year at 5618.8.

The FTSE 250 Index was also in good shape, finishing at just below Thursday's all-time high of more than 8800.

Analysts hailed it as "an exceptional year" which outstripped expectations in the City for the top flight to rise just six per cent to 5100.

Among the best performing stocks of the year were Persimmon, which rose more than 80 per cent from 691p to 1258p and gained entry into the FTSE 100 Index for the first time, and Cairn Energy, which lifted more than 75 per cent from 1090p to 1920p.

Many predicted further gains in 2006 with some fore-casting the FTSE 100 Index to reach 6200.