Ether, the digital token of the Ethereum blockchain, is the second-largest cryptocurrency in the world by market value.

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LONDON — The cryptocurrency ether hit a fresh all-time high on Friday, surging past $1,700 for the first time.

Ether, which is the world’s second-largest digital coin by market value, climbed 11.2% to a price of $1,743 at around 10:30 a.m. ET, according to data from CoinDesk.

It comes after bitcoin, the most valuable virtual currency, hit a record high close to $42,000 last month.

Bitcoin more than quadrupled in price over the course of 2020, and is up 29% since the start of 2021. Ether has risen about 129% year to date.

Ether has been steadily rising this week as investors await the highly anticipated launch of ether futures contracts from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange next week.

Trading in ether futures is set to start Monday. The CME launched bitcoin futures over three years ago, at the peak of that cryptocurrency’s 2017 rally.

Some investors believe that futures and other crypto-focused derivatives products will give institutional investors more confidence to invest in the space.

“Bringing more financial instruments will bring more participants into the market,” said Sachin Patodia, a partner at Avon Ventures, a venture capital fund affiliated with the parent company of Fidelity. “That probably is positive for the ether price.”

But Patodia said a big driver of the price of ether — and other
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