- Bellway reported an increase in first-half profits as ongoing demand for new housing drove sales up at higher prices.

For the 6 months ended 31 January, pre-tax profit rose 8.7% to £313.9m and total revenue gained 12.4% to £1.49bn from a year earlier, driven by previous investment in areas of high demand, where average selling prices tend to be 'robust', the company said.

The company in February forecast total revenue to rise 12% to almost £1.5m from a year earlier.

Completions rose by 5.6% to 5,007 and the average selling price increased by 6.5% to £293,832.

The company said its forward order book was strong, with a value of £1,485.2m at 10 March 2019, compared with £1,524.9m a year earlier, comprising 5,724 homes from 5,485 homes last year.

The order book value felt to £1,171.3m for the half, from £1,297.4m a year earlier, comprising 4,587 units, down from 4,629 units a year ago.

Weekly reservation rates rose by 2.8% to a record 183 for the half, from a year earlier.

The cancellation rate rose marginally to 13% from 11% a year ago, but the company said demand for new homes remained strong.

The interim dividend would increase by 5.0% to 50.4p per share, the company said.

Trading in the first six weeks since 1 February had been strong, with the group achieving 259 reservations per week, up 4.4% from 248 per week last year.

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