Stock Quotes in this Article: CBST, HNT, SGNT

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.

Sagent Pharmaceuticals

Sagent Pharmaceuticals (SGNT) is a pharmaceutical company engaged in developing, manufacturing, sourcing and marketing pharmaceutical products, with a specific emphasis on injectables. This stock closed up 1.1% at $23.58 in Thursday's trading session.

Thursday's Volume: 235,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 128,231

Volume % Change: 110%

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From a technical perspective, SGNT rose modestly higher here right above its 50-day moving average of $22.32 with above-average volume. This move pushed shares of SGNT into breakout territory, since the stock took out some near-term overhead resistance at $23.50. Shares of SGNT are now quickly moving within range of triggering another near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if SGNT manages to clear its 52-week high at $24.27 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in SGNT as long as it's trending above its 50-day at $22.32 and then once it sustains a move or close above its 52-week high at $24.27 with volume that's near or above 128,231 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then SGNT will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are its next major overhead resistance levels at $26.74 to its all-time high at $29.23.

Health Net

Health Net (HNT) is an integrated managed care organization that delivers managed health care services through health plans and government-sponsored managed care plans. This stock closed up 2.9% at $32.51 in Thursday's trading session.

Thursday's Volume: 1.17 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 665,534

Volume % Change: 65%

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From a technical perspective, HNT jumped higher here right above its 50-day moving average of $31.37 with above-average volume. This stock has been uptrending for the last few weeks, with shares moving higher from its low of $29.11 to its intraday high of $32.80. During that move, shares of HNT have been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. That move is starting to push shares of HNT within range of triggering a big breakout trade. That trade will hit if HNT manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $33.61 to its 52-week high at $33.70 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in HNT as long as it's trending above its 50-day at $31.37 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that's near or above 665,534 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then HNT will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $38 to its three-year high at $41.22.

Cubist Pharmaceuticals

Cubist Pharmaceuticals (CBST) is engaged in the research, development and commercialization of novel therapies to treat unmet medical needs in acute care environment. This stock closed up 2.8% at $63.98 in Thursday's trading session.

Thursday's Volume: 3.48 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 960,861

Volume % Change: 239%

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From a technical perspective, CBST jumped higher here right above some near-term support at $62 with heavy upside volume. This move briefly pushed shares of CBST into breakout territory, since the stock took out its former 52-week high at $65.55 after it hit an intraday high of $65.59. Shares of CBST closed well off those levels at $63.98 and volume was well above its three-month average action of 960,861. This brief breakout could be signaling a larger move higher for CBST since its coming out of a recent consolidation pattern that saw CBST trade between $60 on the downside and $65.55 on the upside.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in CBST as long as it's trending above some key near-term support levels at $62 or above $60, and then once it sustains a move or close above its new 52-week high at $65.59 with volume that's near or above 960,861 shares. If we get that move soon, then CBST will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that move are $70 to $75.

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.