Major cryptocurrencies are soaring after bitcoin made its first big jump in months

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A photo illustration of the digital Cryptocurrency, Litecoin (LTC), Monero (XMR), Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP) and Dash are seen on September 13 2018 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

Hot on the heels of bitcoin surging to multi-month highs, other major cryptocurrencies are also posting big moves upward.

As of 1:36 p.m. HK/SIN, the price of ethereum had surged 12.46 percent in 24 hours to $166.66, according to data from Coindesk. Ripple's XRP token also rose 6.55 percent to approximately $0.346. While bitcoin has by far the largest market cap of any digital token, ethereum and XRP hold the second and third positions, respectively.

As of the afternoon of Asian trading hours, data from Coinmarketcap showed that more than $84 billion had been traded in the cryptocurrency space over the last 24 hours.

For its part, Bitcoin jumped more than 3 percent higher over 24 hours to $4,924.21, according to Coindesk. It had earlier breached the $5,000 level.

One expert told CNBC on Tuesday that one potential catalyst behind the surge in bitcoin was likely tied to a Reuters report of a private buyer purchasing more than $100 million worth of bitcoin over a short period.

Given the small daily trading volume of bitcoin, "that order would be enough to have an impact," said Hunter Horsley, CEO of Bitwise, which is in the process of applying for the first-ever bitcoin exchange-traded fund.

That large purchase of bitcoin could have been triggered by an individual trader or a small group of traders, according to Zennon Kapron, director at financial technology consultancy Kapronasia.

Speaking with CNBC over the phone, Kapron said there were many traders sitting on "significant amounts of bitcoin" who could "very well be behind the movement."

Still, Bitwise's Horsely said: "Crypto is famous for a long history of volatility like this. It's always hard to pin down the true impetus, and often the real source is not obvious."

Other possible reasons for the surge include the crossing of an important technical level at the $4,200 price triggering a stop-loss trade. (In bitcoin and other assets, traders will often set a certain level for when they automatically cover their shorts.)

Asked about the rally's sustainability, Kapron said prices were likely to come back down if there was nothing to support them. And, he added, there was "nothing in particular" that drove the recent price spikes aside from general market demand.

Bitcoin prices have seen a relatively calm 2019 after last year's volatility. The cryptocurrency fell roughly 75 percent in 2018 after climbing to a high of almost $20,000 at the end of 2017.

— CNBC's Kate Rooney contributed to this report.

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