Stock Quotes in this Article: BCRX, RARE, ESPR

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.

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

Read More: Warren Buffett's Top 10 Dividend Stocks

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.

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

Esperion Therapeutics

Esperion Therapeutics (ESPR), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, focuses on the research, development and commercialization of oral, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol lowering therapies for the treatment of patients with hypercholesterolemia and other cardiometabolic risk markers. This stock closed up 4.9% at $14.96 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 55,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 25,616

Volume % Change: 95%

From a technical perspective, ESPR ripped sharply higher here back above both its 200-day moving average at $14.70 and its 50-day moving average at $14.91 with above-average volume. This sharp spike higher briefly pushed shares of ESPR into breakout territory, since the stock flirted with some near-term overhead resistance at $15.13. Shares of ESPR are now starting to trend within range of triggering another big breakout trade. That trade will hit if ESPR manages to take out Wednesday's intraday high at $15.28 and then once it clears more key overhead resistance levels at $15.97 to $16.32 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in ESPR as long as it's trending above Wednesday's intraday low of $14.42 or above some more key near-term support at $13.90 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that's near or above 25,616 shares. If that breakout materializes soon, then ESPR will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $17 to $18, or even $18.83 to $19.55.

Read More: 8 Stocks George Soros Is Buying

BioCryst Pharmaceuticals

BioCryst Pharmaceuticals (BCRX), a biotechnology company, designs, optimizes and develops small molecule pharmaceuticals that block key enzymes involved in the pathogenesis of diseases. This stock closed up 4.9% at $12.86 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 1.43 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 1.23 million

Volume % Change: 50%

From a technical perspective, BCRX ripped higher here and broke out above some near-term overhead resistance at $12.58 with above-average volume. This sharp spike to the upside on Wednesday is now pushing shares of BCRX within range of triggering another big breakout trade. That trade will hit if BCRX manages to take out Wednesday's intraday high of $12.90 to its 52-week high at $13.33 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in BCRX as long as it's trending above Wednesday's intraday low of $12.34 or above $12 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 1.23 million shares. If that breakout begins soon, then BCRX will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory above $13.33, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that move are $14 to $15.

Read More: Warren Buffett's Top 25 Stocks for 2014

Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical

Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical (RARE), a development-stage biotechnology company, focuses on the identification, acquisition, development and commercialization of various products for the treatment of rare and ultra-rare diseases in the U.S. This stock closed up 5.3% to $43.76 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 378,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 196,676

Volume % Change: 70%

From a technical perspective, RARE ripped higher here back above its 50-day moving average of $41.06 with above-average volume. This sharp move to the upside on Wednesday is quickly pushing shares of RARE within range of triggering a big breakout trade. That trade will hit if RARE manages to take out some key near-term overhead resistance levels at $44.30 to $44.59 and then above $46 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in RARE as long as it's trending above its 50-day moving average of $41.06 or above some more near-term support at $39.21 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 196,676 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then RARE will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $50.91 to $50.93.

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.


RELATED LINKS:







Follow Stockpickr on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

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.