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John Phelps's portfolio

Our share tips continued to enjoy their early Christmas celebrations with all four of our portfolios pushing to record highs as we conducted our weekly review on Wednesday morning.

Virtually all of our recommendations recorded some sort of rise with a particularly strong performance from the 2012 portfolio which ended the week no less than 3.1% ahead.

That took its overall gain past the 30% level for the first time, helped by further investment support for Aberdeen Asset Management, takeover gossip surrounding Petrofac and a cold weather boost for Scottish Gas group, Centrica.

The 2010 and 2011 portfolios also performed well although both stopped just short of their own significant milestones of 80% and 50% appreciation respectively.

The one disappointment was the 2009 list, which managed a rise of just less than 1% after a slippage in drinks group Diageo took the edge off gains elsewhere.

There is still a slight chance the portfolio can meet our goal of 100% appreciation by the end of this year but it will need to add another £190 (3.2%) in the next fortnight.

Much depends on the progress of talks to avoid the US fiscal cliff and we were tempted to add a major American earner to the selections in a final gamble to meet the target.

In the event, prudence prevailed and we will continue to sit on our large cash reserves until the talks over potential tax rises and social security cuts run their course.

Meantime, we continued to take steps to ensure we can lock in the bulk of recent gains on any major stock market set back and have raised our stop/loss levels on a number of shares including AAM, Standard Life, Carr's Milling and Halma.

This figure is used as a sell signal and is adjusted each week on an upwards-only basis.

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