The housebuilding sector was given a pre-Christmas boost this week when Berkeley and Persimmon made bullish statements about its prospects.
The two firms, both of whom are highly regarded in the City, said the British housing market was holding up despite the general economic uncertainty and a slackening demand in the Greater London area.

Berkeley managing director Tony Pidgley said the market fell off in the immediate aftermath of 11 September but recovered between October and December. He said a lot of the "heat" had gone out of the market.

Persimmon said trading was good, with continued price rises in most operating regions, outside the South-east.

The group said it believed this was a regional slowdown and that the market would return to normal next year.