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HONG KONG: Ether, the world's second largest cryptocurrency, hit an all-time high on Friday, a little over a week after larger rival bitcoin set its own record. As cryptocurrency markets have rallied sharply in recent weeks, ether is up more than 60% since its late September trough.

The token, which underpins the ethereum blockchain network, rose as much as 2.6% to $4,400 in Asian hours, breaching the previous top of $4,380 set on May 12. "It wouldn't surprise me if we go blasting through in European and US trade," said Chris Weston, research head at Melbourne-based broker Pepperstone. "This is a momentum beast at the moment, and it looks bloody strong."

A recent technical upgrade to the Ethereum network seemed to have helped, he added. "A lot of the time, with these technological upgrades and bits and pieces, this is news that fuels the beast, it's fodder for people to say, 'This is what we bought in for,' and as soon as it starts moving, it's like a red rag to a bull, people just go and buy."

Bitcoin, which hit its record high of $67,016 on Oct. 20, was last up 1.4% at $61,457, for an increase of about 50% since late September. Among the biggest recent movers in cryptocurrencies, however, is meme-based cryptocurrency shiba inu, whose price has rocketed about 160% this week, and is the world's eighth largest token. Shiba inu is a spinoff of dogecoin, itself born as a satire of a cryptocurrency frenzy in 2013, and has barely any practical use.

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