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Smaller Cryptocurrencies Are Surging After Bitcoin's Wild Rally Took It Past $34,000

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  • Ether climbed past the $1,000 mark Monday and hit its highest level since Feb. 2, 2018.
  • It comes after bitcoin notched a fresh all-time high, briefly topping the $34,000 mark.
  • Alternative cryptocurrencies often rally in times of strength for bitcoin.

While you've been watching bitcoin's blistering rally, other cryptocurrencies are having a moment.

Ether, the digital token of the Ethereum blockchain, climbed past the $1,000 mark Monday to hit its highest level since Feb. 2, 2018. Ether was last trading at $1,038, up 30% in the last 24 hours, according to data from crypto news site CoinDesk.

It comes after bitcoin notched a fresh all-time high, briefly topping the $34,000 mark. The world's biggest cryptocurrency by market value rallied to $34,452 early Sunday before easing to around $31,780 on Monday.

Even XRP, the virtual currency linked with controversial blockchain start-up Ripple, was climbing Monday. XRP was last up around 7% in the last 24 hours, trading at around 23 cents.

It's still worth less than half what it was about two weeks ago, when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint against Ripple claiming the company had conducted an unregistered securities offering with XRP.

Meanwhile, litecoin traded over 10% higher Monday to around $155. Litecoin was created by crypto entrepreneur Charles Lee with the intention of processing transactions faster than bitcoin's underlying blockchain network.

Alternatives to bitcoin, sometimes referred to as "altcoins" in the cryptocurrency industry, often rally in times of strength for bitcoin. Many altcoins gained after bitcoin approached $20,000 in 2017, amid increased interest from retail investors in the space.

"The super-exponential pace of gains is impressive, but brings with it the risk of very sharp corrections when they do finally arrive," John Hardy, head of FX strategy at Saxo Bank, said in a note Monday.

Ether was within reach of an all-time high above $1,400 which it reached in mid-January 2018. The cryptocurrency's network recently began a major upgrade called Ethereum 2.0, which is expected to make it faster and more secure.

Bullish crypto investors believe Ethereum could become the blueprint for a decentralized, next-generation internet, since it supports apps on its network. A big theme in 2020 was the rise of decentralized finance, or DeFi, which aims to replicate traditional financial products such as loans without middlemen like the banks.

Bitcoin saw a historic rally last year when it advanced more than 300%. The virtual currency began life in 2009 and has come a long way from its anti-establishment roots in the wake of the financial crisis, seeing adoption from major firms like PayPal and Fidelity and heightened interest from institutional investors.

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