Shares in Kier, the construction, housing and property group, hit an all-time high of 1688p after the company released strong interim results last week.

Pre-tax profit at Kier rose almost 20% to £28m in the six months to 31 December 2005. Its construction and support services businesses were the best performing areas of the group.

Housing operating profit rose from £19.6m to £19.8m, but Kier's housing order book at the end of February was 50% larger than the same time last year.

John Dodds, Kier chief executive, said: "The markets across all of our sectors have remained strong."

He added that there were good prospects for growth in all of Kier's markets.

Turnover rose 15% to £923m and earnings per share were up 23% to 58p.

The board recommended a 17% increase in interim dividend to 8.2p.