Stock Quotes in this Article: HAWK, NTRI, APAM

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.

Blackhawk Network (HAWK) provides various prepaid products and payment services. This stock closed up 9.5% at $27.53 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 1.44 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 316,148

Volume % Change: 342%

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From a technical perspective HAWK skyrocketed higher here back above its 50-day moving average of $26.09 with strong upside volume. This move also briefly pushed shares of HAWK into breakout territory, since the stock flirted with some near-term overhead resistance at $28.24. Shares of HAWK closed just below that level at $27.53. Market players should now look for a continuation move higher in the short-term if HAWK manages to take out Friday's high of $28.51 to its all-time high at $29.73 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in HAWK as long as it's trending above its 50-day at $26.09 and then once it sustains a move or close above $28.51 to $29.73 with volume that this near or above 316,148 shares. If we get that move soon, then HAWK will set up to enter new all-time-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that move are $35 to $40.

Artisan Partners Asset Management (APAM) provides investment management services in the U.S. and internationally. This stock closed up 1% at $64.75 in Friday's trading session.

Friday's Volume: 3.07 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 244,375

Volume % Change: 1087%

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From a technical perspective, APAM trended modestly higher here right above its 50-day moving average of $63.04 with monster upside volume. This stock has been uptrending strong over the last month, with shares moving higher from its low of $55.42 to its recent high of $66.52. During that move, shares of APAM have been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. That move has now pushed shares of APAM within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if APAM manages to take out Friday's high of $64.85 to some more near-term overhead resistance at $66.52 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in APAM as long as it's trending above its 50-day at $63.04 or above more near-term support around $62 then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that's near or above 244,375 shares. If that breakout kicks off soon, then APAM will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $69.26 to its all-time high at $71.86.

Nutrisystem (NTRI), together with its subsidiaries, provides weight management products and services in the U.S. This stock closed up 2.6% at $14.66 in Friday's trading session.

Friday's Volume: 1.24 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 643,780

Volume % Change: 110%

From a technical perspective, NTRI jumped higher here right off its 200-day moving average of $14.07 with above-average volume. This stock recently formed a double bottom chart pattern at $13.45 to $13.89. Following that bottom, shares of NTRI have now moved back above its 200-day and it's quickly moving within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if NTRI manages to take out Friday's high of $14.80 to its 50-day moving average of $ 15.24 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in NTRI as long as it's trending above its 200-day at $14.07 or above some more near-term support at $13.89 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that's near or above 643,780 shares. If that breakout kicks off soon, then NTRI will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $16.74 to $17.23. Any high-volume move above those levels will then give NTRI a chance to tag $18 to $19.

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.