Shares in Kier rose 3% on Monday after its chief executive told the City that first-quarter trading was in line with expectations and the firm was on track to achieve full-year targets.

In a trading statement to the stock exchange John Dodds said: “Our construction division has had a strong start to the new financial year with a record level of revenue achieved in the first quarter.

“The market remains buoyant and our order books remain at healthy levels.”

Commenting on the housing market, Dodds said Kier’s housebuilding division had noticed “a notable reduction in the level of visitors” since the Northern Rock banking crisis, but insisted that it should hits its unit sales for the year.

He said: “Although our reservations to the end of September are marginally fewer than the same period last year, our order book at 19 October 2007 is 4% ahead of 2006 by value, with over 50% of our full-year targeted unit sales secured by way of completions, exchanged contracts and reservations.”

Kier’s shares are trading at about £21.13, roughly mid-way between its year low of £16.93, and a year high of £25.78.

Alastair Stewart, construction analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort, said: “According to the group’s normally guarded management, its UK markets are the best in memory and, like several peers, it can afford to be selective in bidding for work.”