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Smaller digital coins soar as bitcoin powers on towards record high

Digital currencies Ethereum and XRP soared on Monday, gaining momentum as bitcoin powered on towards its all-time high. 

Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation after bitcoin, jumped 7% to its highest since June 2018, taking its gains to more than 25% over the last three days alone. 

Traders said ethereum, which often moves in tandem with bitcoin, has been boosted by growing demand ahead of an upgrade to its blockchain network - due in early December - that is widely expected to make it quicker and more secure. 

Third-biggest coin XRP soared 15% to its highest in two years, taking gains to more than 75% over the last three days. Traders said there was no immediate news catalyst for its jump on Monday.

The price of these so-called altcoins is closely tied to bitcoin. Less liquid than their bigger cousin, they tend to suffer from even greater volatility than the original cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin has risen around 10% in the last week, and was last trading at $18,347, its all-time high of $19,666 in sight.

It has gained about 160% this year, fuelled by a demand for risk-on assets, a hunger for assets perceived as resistant to inflation, and expectations it will achieve greater mainstream use.

(Reporting by Tom Wilson; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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