Ethereum's ether cryptocurrency rallied to new lifetime highs early on Tuesday amid a continued drying up of sell-side liquidity in the market.

The second-largest cryptocurrency registered a record high of $1,824.59 during European trading hours, surpassing the previous peak price of $1,761.35 hit on Feb. 5, according to CoinDesk 20 data.

The cryptocurrency is now trading lower at $1,764, representing a 5.5% gain on a 24-hour basis. Ether has more than doubled in value this year, outperforming bitcoin's 58% rise.

The latest gains could be attributed to expectations that Chicago Mercantile Exchange's (CME) regulated ether futures would boost institutional participation. The CME futures contracts went live on Monday.

The bullish sentiment may have received a boost from the recent GameStop saga and turmoil in legacy markets underscoring what some say is a need for more democratization of finance. Ethereum's blockchain dominates the decentralized finance (DeFi) space.

Aside from the above factors, the cryptocurrency may have benefitted from low liquidity on exchanges. The number of coins held in exchange addresses fell to a 16-month low of 15,243,945 on Monday, according to data source Glassnode.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Ether exchange balance and price

The exchange balance has been sliding since August, likely due to investors taking direct custody of their coins or moving them to DeFi protocols. The number has declined by 8% over the past 4.5 weeks alone.

With prices at current levels, ether's market capitalization is now over $200 billion.


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