Stock Quotes in this Article: SIGI, VHC, SPWR

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 recently.

Selective Insurance Group

Selective Insurance Group (SIGI) provides standard and excess and surplus lines of property and casualty insurance products in the U.S. This stock closed up 3% at $23.34 in Friday's trading session.

Friday's Volume: 438,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 153,149

Volume % Change: 216%

From a technical perspective, SIGI gapped sharply higher back above its 50-day moving average of $23 above-average volume. This spike higher on Friday is starting to move shares of SIGI within range of triggering a big breakout trade. That trade will hit if SIGI manages to take out Friday's high of $23.59 to its 200-day moving average of $24.49 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in SIGI as long as it's trending above Friday's low of $23.09 or above more key near-term support at $22 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that's near or above 153,149 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then SIGI will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $26 to $27, or its 52-week high at $28.31.

VirnetX

VirnetX (VHC) develops software and technology solutions for securing real-time communications over the Internet. This stock closed up 9.3% at $16.02 in Friday's trading session.

Friday's Volume: 1.69 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 737,894

Volume % Change: 172%

From a technical perspective, VHC exploded higher here back above its 50-day moving average of $15.87 with strong upside volume. This move has now pushed shares of VHC into breakout territory, since the stock took out some near-term overhead resistance at $15.82. That said, shares of VHC closed off its intraday high of $17.20 to just above its 50-day at $16.02. Market players should now look for a continuation move higher in the short-term if VHC manages to take out Friday's intraday high of $17.20 with strong volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in VHC as long as it's trending above $15 or $14 and then once it sustains a move or close above Friday's high of $17.20 with volume that this near or above 737,894 shares. If that move gets underway soon, then VHC will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at its 200-day moving average of $17.61 to $21 or $22.

SunPower

SunPower (SPWR), an energy services company, designs, manufactures and delivers solar systems to residential, commercial and utility customers. This stock closed up 6.7% to $34.18 in Friday's trading session.

Friday's Volume: 9.78 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 3.13 million

Volume % Change: 210%

From a technical perspective, SPWR bounced sharply higher here right above its 50-day moving average of $31.98 with strong upside volume. This move briefly pushed shares of SPWR into breakout territory, since the stock flirted with some near-term overhead resistance levels at $34.03 to $34.42. Shares of SPWR closed just below the latter breakout level at $34.18. Market players should now look for a continuation move higher in the short-term if SPWR can manage to take out Friday's intraday high of $34.89 with strong volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in SPWR as long as it's trending above $32.50 or above its 50-day at $31.98 and then once it sustains a move or close above $34.89 with volume that hits near or above 3.13 million shares. If that move starts soon, then SPWR will set up to re-test or possibly take out its 52-week high at $37.14.

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.