UPDATE 1-Leaner Galliford Try starts on a strong note with contract wins

(Adds comments, details on contracts and Aberdeen motorway claims)

Jan 9 (Reuters) - Britain’s Galliford Try said on Thursday its business in the first half benefited from new construction contracts and the completion of the sale of its residential arm, which helped it focus on a smaller, more profitable construction business.

Shares in Galliford rose 7.9% to 156.2 pence at 0932 GMT.

Cowley-based Galliford, which sold its residential business to Vistry Group, previously known as Bovis Homes, said its current order book stood at 3.2 billion pounds ($4.19 billion).

The company has been moving away from large fixed price contracts to smaller ones and has recently secured contracts including YORCivil four-year project for Sheffield Council, AMP7 for Yorkshire Water and Project Nash development in central London.

A company spokesperson said while the first-half performance may slow due to the Aberdeen settlement announced just before the Christmas, it expected a better second half.

Galliford and infrastructure firm Balfour Beatty are in advanced talks to settle claims related to the construction of a motorway project in Aberdeen.

Galliford is expected to write down 52 million pounds related to the settlement following the failure to complete what was one of Scotland’s biggest motorway construction projects in time.

The builder’s positive results come as a relief to Britain’s construction industry reeling under a downturn that deepened in December when Brexit uncertainties peaked. ($1 = 0.7631 pounds) (Reporting by Shanima A in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Arun Koyyur)