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.

Atmos Energy

Atmos Energy (ATO), together with its subsidiaries, is engaged in the distribution, transmission and storage of natural gas in the U.S. This stock closed up 1.1% to $48.52 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 1.41 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 678,395

Volume % Change: 143%

From a technical perspective, ATO spiked modestly higher here and broke out into new 52-week-high territory with above-average volume. This stock has been uptrending strong for the last two months, with shares moving higher from its low of $43.90 to its intraday high of $48.63. During that move, shares of ATO have been mostly making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. Market players should now look for a continuation move higher in the short-term if ATO manages to take out Wednesday's high of $48.63 with strong volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in ATO as long as it's trending above Wednesday's low of $47 or above its 50-day at $46.22 and then once it sustains a move or close above $48.63 with volume that hits near or above 678,395 shares. If that move starts soon, then ATO will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that action are $53 to $55.

Ohr Pharmaceutical

Ohr Pharmaceutical (OHRP) operates as a biotechnology company. This stock closed up 3.8% at $10.22 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 664,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 321,282

Volume % Change: 110%

From a technical perspective, OHRP spiked higher here right above its recent low of $9.70 with above-average volume. This stock gapped down on Wednesday from $14 to $9.70 with heavy downside volume. Shares of OHRP are now rebounding and quickly approaching a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if OHRP manages to take out Wednesday's high of $10.34 to its gap-down-day high of $10.57 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in OHRP as long as it's trending above low of $9.70 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that's near or above 321,282 shares. If that breakout starts soon, then OHRP will set up to re-fill some of its previous gap-down-day zone that started at $14. Some reasonable targets if OHRP gets into that gap with volume are $12 to $12.50.

Cavium

Cavium (CAVM) designs, develops and markets semiconductor processors for intelligent and secure networks. This stock closed up 1.7% at $44.69 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 1.23 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 762,936

Volume % Change: 65%

From a technical perspective, CAVM jumped higher here with above-average volume. This stock recently formed a double bottom chart pattern at $41.45 to $41.56 and that bottomed occurred right above its 50-day moving average. Shares of CAVM have now started to uptrend off those support levels and it's quickly moving within range of triggering a big breakout trade. That trade will hit if CAVM manages to take out Wednesday's high of $44.93 to more key near-term overhead resistance levels at $46.08 to its 52-week high at $47.47 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in CAVM as long as it's trending above support at $43 or above its 50-day at $41.78 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that's near or above 762,936 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then OHRP will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory above $47.47, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $50 to $55.

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.