Stock Quotes in this Article: SYK, QIHU, SN

DELAFIELD, Wis. (Stockpickr) -- Professional traders running mutual funds and hedge funds don't just look at a stock's price moves; they also track big changes in volume activity. Often when above-average volume moves into an equity, it precedes a large spike in volatility.

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Major moves in volume can signal unusual activity, such as insider buying or selling -- or buying or selling by "superinvestors."

Unusual volume can also be a major signal that hedge funds and momentum traders are piling into a stock ahead of a catalyst. These types of traders like to get in well before a large spike, so it's always a smart move to monitor unusual volume. That said, remember to combine trend and price action with unusual volume. Put them all together to help you decipher the next big trend for any stock.

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With that in mind, let's take a look at several stocks rising on unusual volume recently.

Sanchez Energy

Sanchez Energy (SN), an independent exploration and production company, focuses on the acquisition, exploration and development of unconventional oil and natural gas resources in the onshore U.S. Gulf Coast. This stock closed up 3.2% at $33.91 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 2.28 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 1.01 million

Volume % Change: 123%

From a technical perspective, SN ripped sharply higher here with strong upside volume flows. This stock recently gapped up sharply higher from around $28 to its all-time high of $34.50 with monster upside volume. Following that move, shares of SN have pulled back to around $31 and subsequently started to bounce higher again and move within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if SN manages to take out Wednesday's intraday high of $34.18 to its all-time high of $34.50 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in SN as long as it's trending above $32 or $31 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that's near or above 1.01 million shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then SN will set up to enter new all-time-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $40 to $45.

Stryker

Stryker (SYK), together with its subsidiaries, operates as a medical technology company. This stock closed up 2.8% at $82.64 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 5.22 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 1.51 million

Volume % Change: 239%

From a technical perspective, SYK gapped notably higher here right off its 50-day moving average of $79.94 with above-average volume. This gap pushed shares of SYK into breakout territory, since the stock took out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $81.44 to $82. Market players should now look for a continuation move to the upside if SYK manages to take out Wednesday's intraday high of $83.86 to its 52-week high of $84.85 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in SYK as long as it's trending above Wednesday's low of $81.61 and then once it sustains a move or close above $83.86 to $84.85 with volume that's near or above 1.51 million shares. If that move begins soon, then SYK will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory above $84.85, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that move are $90 to $100.

Qihoo 360 Technology

Qihoo 360 Technology (QIHU) provides Internet and mobile security products and services in the People's Republic of China. This stock closed up 5.7% at $95.14 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 7.88 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 3.50 million

Volume % Change: 132%

From a technical perspective, QIHU gapped up sharply higher here right off its 200-day moving average of $88.77 and back above its 50-day moving average of $90.65 with strong upside volume flows. This gap is quickly pushing shares of QIHU within range of triggering a big breakout trade. That trade will hit if QIHU manages to take out Wednesday's intraday high of $96.40 to some more key overhead resistance at $96.77 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in QIHU as long as it's trending above Wednesday's low of $92.80 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that's near or above 3.50 million shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then QIHU will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $105.50 to $110, or even $115.

To see more stocks rising on unusual volume, check out the Stocks Rising on Unusual Volume portfolio on Stockpickr.

-- Written by Roberto Pedone in Delafield, Wis.


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At the time of publication, author had no positions in stocks mentioned.

Roberto Pedone, based out of Delafield, Wis., is an independent trader who focuses on technical analysis for small- and large-cap stocks, options, futures, commodities and currencies. Roberto studied international business at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, and he spent a year overseas studying business in Lubeck, Germany. His work has appeared on financial outlets including

CNBC.com and Forbes.com. You can follow Pedone on Twitter at www.twitter.com/zerosum24 or @zerosum24.