Market Extra: Bitcoin passes $14,000, has gained more than 1,400% in 2017

The digital currency bitcoin, which has seen astonishing gains throughout 2017, is showing no signs of slowing down.

The price of a single bitcoin BTCUSD, +5.13%  rose more than 12% on Wednesday, passing both the $13,000 and $14,000 milestones, as it last traded at $14,006.50. Bitcoin’s total market capitalization is $234.3 billion, according to pricing website CoinMarketCap, having first crested $200 billion on Tuesday. To give a sense of how quickly it has been rising, bitcoin first topped $100 billion in October. The combined market cap of all cryptocurrencies is $356.9 billion.

At its current size, bitcoin is now bigger than all but 16 components of the S&P 500 SPX, -0.01%  . With Wednesday’s advance, it surpassed such iconic names as Home Depot Inc. HD, -1.12%   ($213.5 billion), UnitedHealth Group Inc. UNH, -0.07%   ($213.3 billion), Pfizer Inc. PFE, -0.04%   ($212.4 billion), and Verizon Communications Inc. VZ, -0.47%   ($207.7 billion) — all of which are Dow components.

While there is no exchange-traded fund dedicated to the cryptocurrency, bitcoin is not too far from surpassing the largest ETF in size — the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust SPY, +0.02%  has $257 billion in assets.

Read: Bitcoin’s surge past $11,000 makes it bigger than these iconic companies

Opinion: Here’s what’s driving bitcoin buyers’ rush to ‘millennial gold’

Thus far in 2017, bitcoin has gained more than 1,400%, having ended 2016 below $1,000. The S&P 500 is up nearly 18% over the same period.

While the price has been heavily volatile, it has risen amid a number of calls that it is a bubble or a fraud, including from such high-profile investors as Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. JPM, -0.75%

Opinion: The chance of a bitcoin crash is greater than 80%

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission last week said it would allow the listing of bitcoin futures, with a number of exchanges—including CBOE Global Markets, Nasdaq, and the CME Group—announcing they would launch such products. Futures are seen as potentially further legitimizing bitcoin as an investment, and they could drive additional demand into the space.

See: Brokerage billionaire: Bitcoin futures could lead to a Lehman-style collapse

Cryptocurrencies have also benefitted from growing interest in blockchain, the decentralized ledger that is the underlying technology behind bitcoin.

Related: Winklevoss twins are believed to be the first bitcoin billionaires

“Just as internet has transformed our lives with email, e-commerce, or smartphone apps, we believe blockchain as an infrastructure technology can power future disruptive technologies through distributive ledgers, smart contracts, tokens or identity management,” UBS wrote in October.

The investment bank added that blockchain was “akin to investing in the internet in the mid-nineties,” estimating it could add as much as $300 to $400 billion of annual economic value globally by 2027.

Read: Here’s why UBS is bullish on blockchain, but not bitcoin

Also: Blockchain — bitcoin’s underlying technology — could next disrupt the transportation sector

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