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What delivered the best return of 2017’s first half? Bitcoin and ethereum


Say what you will about the cryprocurrency market in the first half of the year, but give it this: it wasn’t boring.

In contrast to the U.S. equity market, where a popular measure of volatility has been hovering near a multidecade low since May, there was nothing but volatility in the realm of digital currencies, underscored by jaw-dropping gains on the year and a gut-wrenching drop this month.

Digital currencies hit a number of key milestones in 2017, including breaking into the 12-digit club, as the combined market value of all cryptocurrencies—led especially by bitcoin and ethereum—surpassed $100 billion for the first time ever, and currently stands near $104 billion.

Cryptocurrencies have become so prominent that major semiconductor stocks have started to move based on how readily their chips are used by “miners,” who use high-powered computers in a race to solve complex puzzles. Those who solve these problems are rewarded with the digital gold of bitcoin and other digital currencies.

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