Stock Quotes in this Article: VRX, WX, STML

MADISON, 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.”

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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 today.

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Stemline Therapeutics

Stemline Therapeutics (STML) is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering, acquiring, developing and commercializing therapeutics that target both cancer stem cells and tumor bulk. This stock is trading up 6.9% at $14.44 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 110,000

Average Volume: 52,155

Volume % Change: 190%

From a technical perspective, STML is soaring higher here and breaking out to a new all-time high above some past overhead resistance levels at $13.70 to $14.26 with above-average volume. At last check, STML has hit an intraday high of $14.50 and volume is well above its three-month average action of 52.155 shares.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in STML as long as it’s trending above $13.70 or above $14.26 and then once it sustains a move or close its intraday high of $14.50 with volume that hits near or above 52,155 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then STML will set up to enter new all-time high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that move are $16 to $18.

WuXi PharmaTech

WuXi PharmaTech (WX) is a pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device R&D outsourcing company, with operations in China and the U.S. This stock is trading up 3.2% at $18.99 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 466,000

Average Volume: 276,189

Volume % Change: 210%

From a technical perspective, WX is spiking higher here and breaking out above some near-term overhead resistance at $18.79 with above-average volume. This stock has been uptrending for the last few weeks, with shares moving higher from its low of $17.05 to its intraday high of $19.10. During that move, shares of WX have been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. Now shares of WX are breaking out to a new 52-week high above $18.79.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in WX as long as it’s trending above today’s low of $18.52 and then once it sustains a move or close above $18.79 to $19.10 with volume that hits near or above 276,189 shares. If WX can maintain this move, then this stock will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $22 to $23.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals

Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) is a specialty pharmaceutical company that develops, manufactures and markets a broad range of pharmaceutical products, primarily in the areas of neurology, dermatology and branded generics. This stock is trading up 3.8% at $75.99 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 2.52 million

Average Volume: 1.32 million

Volume % Change: 208%

From a technical perspective, VRX is gapping higher here right above some near-term support at $72.73 with above-average volume. This stock has been uptrending strong for the last six months, with shares soaring higher from its low of $52.52 to its recent high of $76.56. During that move, shares of VRX have been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. That move has now pushed shares of VRX within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if VRX manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $75.61 to $76.56 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in VRX as long as it’s trending above today’s low of $74.32 or above $72.73 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 1.32 million shares. If VRX triggers that breakout, then this stock will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory above $76.56, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $80 to $82.

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

-- Written by Roberto Pedone in Madison, Wis.

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

Roberto Pedone, based out of Madison, 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.