Shares in Bellway were up on the FTSE 250 in morning trading after the housebuilder reported a rise in turnover and pre-tax profit in the half year ended 31 January.

Total group turnover rose from £360.8 million in the same period the previous year to £407.9 million, while pre-tax profit increased from £19 million to £24 million.

The number of completed sales of homes rose slightly in the period from 2,247 to 2,332, with the average selling price also going up from £155,871 to £168,428.

The group said that the value of its forward order book as of 13 March was £479.2 million, up from £435.4 million a year previously.

Following the results Bellway said it would be raising its interim dividend from 3.3 pence per share to 3.7 pence per share.

Howard Dawe, Chairman of Bellway, said, "I am pleased to report that Bellway has exceeded its targets for the six months ended 31 January 2011...The Group has been active in the land market and commenced a programme of opening 30 new sites in late 2010/early 2011, hence net bank debt has reappeared on the balance sheet which, at £6.7 million, gives very modest gearing of less than 1%. The net asset value per ordinary share has grown from 856 pence at 31 July 2010 to 866 pence at 31 January 2011."

He added, "There is no doubt that the housing market stuttered through the autumn of 2010 and that the inclement weather prior to Christmas had a negative effect on reservation levels. Since the start of 2011, however, visitors and reservations have returned to the pattern of a traditional spring market, despite a media backdrop of negativity. Consumer confidence remains fragile and could still be adversely affected by any one of a multitude of factors outside the Group's control. Bellway is, nevertheless, currently well positioned to deliver increasing returns through a combination of rising volumes, growing average sales prices and improving margins."

By 09:10 shares in Bellway were up 2.05 per cent on the FTSE 250 to 696.00 pence per share.