Stock Quotes in this Article: ALXN, HALO, NPSP

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 today.

Halozyme Therapeutics

Halozyme Therapeutics (HALO), a biopharmaceutical company, engages in the research, development and commercialization of human enzymes. This stock closed up 16.6% at $14.75 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 5.34 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 1.66 million

Volume % Change: 255%

From a technical perspective, HALO skyrocketed higher here right off its 50-day moving average of $12.74 with strong upside volume. This stock has been uptrending strong for the last four months and change, with shares moving higher from its low of $6.51 to its recent high of $15.39. During that uptrend, shares of HALO have been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. That move has now pushed shares of HALO within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if HALO manages to take out Wednesday's high of $14.77 to its 52-week high at $15.39 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in HALO as long as it's trending above $14 or $13 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that's near or above 1.66 million shares. If that breakout hits soon, then HALO will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory above $15.39, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $17 to $18, or even $20.

NPS Pharmaceuticals

NPS Pharmaceuticals (NPSP) is involved in the development of new treatment options for patients with rare gastrointestinal and endocrine disorders and serious unmet medical needs. This stock closed up 8.3% at $26.93 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 4.09 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 2.15 million

Volume % Change: 175%

From a technical perspective, NPSP spiked sharply higher here back above its 50-day moving average of $26.51 with strong upside volume. This move also pushed shares of NPSP into breakout territory, since the stock took out some near-term overhead resistance at $26.56. Market players should now look for a continuation move higher in the short-term if NPSP manages to clear Wednesday's high of $27.28 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in NPSP as long as it's trending above Wednesday's low of $24.84 or above $24 and then once it sustains a move or close above $27.28 with volume that's near or above 2.15 million shares. If we get that move soon, then NPSP will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $30.96 to $31.35.Any high-volume move above those levels will then give NSPS a chance to tag $34.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals

Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN) is a biopharmaceutical company engaged in serving patients with severe and ultra-rare disorders through the development and commercialization of life-transforming therapeutic products. This stock closed up 4.5% at $128.65 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 1.98 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 1.04 million

Volume % Change: 79%

From a technical perspective, ALXN spiked sharply higher here right above some near-term support at $120.87 with above-average volume. This move is quickly pushing shares of ALXN within range of triggering a big breakout trade. That trade will hit if ALXN manages to take out Wednesday's high of $128.90 to its 52-week high at $129.22 with high volume.

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.