Stock Quotes in this Article: GENT, ICPT, XLRN

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.

Acceleron Pharma

Acceleron Pharma (XLRN), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of protein therapeutics for cancer and rare diseases. This stock closed up 4.3% to $30 in Friday's trading session.

Friday's Volume 1.20 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 143,630

Volume % Change: 1236%

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From a technical perspective, XLRN spiked sharply higher here right above some near-term support at $26.15 with monster upside volume. This move is quickly pushing shares of XLRN within range of triggering a major breakout trade. That trade will hit if XLRN manages to take out some key near-term overhead resistance levels at $30.62 to its all-time high at $31.43 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in XLRN as long as it's trending above Friday's low of $27.12 or above more near-term support at $26.15 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 143,630 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then XLRN will set up to enter new all-time-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $35 to $40.

Intercept Pharmaceuticals

Intercept Pharmaceuticals (ICPT) is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of novel therapeutics to treat chronic liver disease utilizing its proprietary bile acid chemistry. This stock closed up 8.6% at $62.87 in Friday's trading session.

Friday's Volume: 891,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 196,239

Volume % Change: 455%

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From a technical perspective, ICPT spiked sharply higher here right above its 50-day moving average of $55.19 with heavy upside volume. This move briefly pushed shares of ICPT into breakout territory, after the stock took out some near-term overhead resistance at $63.20. Shares of ICPT closed just below that breakout level at $62.87. Market players should now look for a continuation move higher in the short-term if ICPT manages to take out Friday's intraday high of $63.58 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in ICPT as long as it's trending above $60, and then once it sustains a move or close above $63.58 with volume that's near or above 196,239 shares. If we get that move soon, then ICPT will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $70 to $72.

Gentium

Gentium (GENT) is engaged in the research and development of drugs derived from DNA and DNA molecules. This stock closed up 2.8% to $57.22 in Friday's trading session.

Friday's Volume: 3.08 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 198,116

Volume % Change: 1754%

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From a technical perspective, GENT rose modestly higher here right above some near-term support at $55 with heavy upside volume. This stock has been trending sideways and consolidating for the last month, with shares moving between $50.54 on the downside and $59.25 on the upside. Shares of GENT are now starting to spike higher and move within range of triggering a major breakout trade above the upper-end of its recent sideways trading chart pattern. That breakout will hit if GENT manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $58.68 to its 52-week high at $59.25 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in GENT as long as it's trending above $55 or above $53 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 198,116 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then GENT will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $65 to $67.

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.