What happened

Cardano's (ADA -1.96%) Ada token is showing strong momentum and making impressive gains in today's trading. The cryptocurrency was up roughly 13.4% as of 1:30 p.m. EDT, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Leading cryptocurrencies have seen some volatile swings across 2021's trading, but many top tokens have recently been enjoying strong bullish momentum. Cardano's Ada token has emerged as one of the year's best-performing crypto assets, and the rally for the broader market combined with upcoming listings on new exchanges and new feature rollouts appear to be driving the gains. 

An illustration of a Cardano token.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Some analysts and cryptocurrency enthusiasts had feared that the United States' big new infrastructure bill would include new regulations that made it more difficult or less profitable to trade cryptocurrencies, but it doesn't look like that will come to pass. With that potential risk factor seemingly out of the way, cryptocurrencies have been making big gains lately. 

In addition to general bullish sentiment in the cryptocurrency space, Cardano is also enjoying positive momentum ahead of Ada's listing on Japanese cryptocurrency exchanges, which is set to take place Aug. 25. Ada also appears to be generating excitement ahead of a pending update that will roll out in September and pave the way for smart contracts on the Cardano blockchain.

Now what

Cardano now has a market capitalization of roughly $94 billion. Its Ada token is now up roughly 1,420% year to date, and the gains have propelled it to the third-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, trailing behind only Ethereum and Bitcoin

Cardano Price Chart

Cardano Price data by YCharts

The cryptocurrency market has enjoyed strong bullish momentum over the last month in particular, with Cardano climbing 126% across the stretch, while Bitcoin has risen roughly 52% and Ethereum's price per Ether token has risen 62%.

Predicting pricing action for Cardano and the broader cryptocurrency market involves a heavy amount of speculation, but there are some potentially major catalysts for Ada on the horizon. In particular, the upcoming upgrade fork that will pave the way for smart contract functionality and other decentralized-finance features is definitely an event to keep an eye on.