Stock Quotes in this Article: JCP, SPN, SPWR

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.”

>>3 Huge Stocks on Traders' Radars

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.

>>5 Stocks Poised for Big Breakouts

SunPower

SunPower (SPWR) is a vertically integrated solar products and services company that designs, manufactures and delivers high-performance solar electric systems worldwide for residential, commercial and utility-scale power plant customers. This stock is trading up 11.3% at $13.54 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 6.85 million

Average Volume: 4.27 million

Volume % Change: 152%

>>4 Big Tech Stocks to Trade (or Not)

From a technical perspective, SPWR is exploding higher here and breaking out above some near-term overhead resistance at $12.95 with heavy upside volume. This move is quickly pushing SPWR within range of triggering another major breakout trade. That trade will hit if SPWR manages to clear its 52-week high at $13.90 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in SPWR as long as it’s trending above $12.95 or today’s low at $12.70 and then once it sustains a move or close above its 52-weeek high at $13.90 with volume that hits near or above 4.27 million shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then SPWR will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that move are $16 to $18.

J.C. Penney

J.C. Penney (JCP) sells merchandise and services to consumers through its department stores and direct channels. It offers such products as family apparel and footwear, accessories, and fine and fashion jewelry. This stock is trading up 9.3% at $16.67 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 21.26 million

Average Volume: 17.63 million

Volume % Change: 155%

Shares of JCP are ripping higher today after news hit that George Soros’s Soros Fund Management took a 7.9% stake in the troubled retailer.

>>5 Stocks Fund Managers Love for 2013

From a technical perspective, JCP is gapping higher here and trending back above its 50-day moving average at $16.33 with heavy upside volume. This stock has been uptrending for the last few weeks, with shares moving higher from its low of $13.55 to its intraday high of $16.75. During that move, shares of JCP have been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. That move is now quickly pushing shares of JCP within range of triggering a major breakout trade. That trade will hit if JCP manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $17.17 to its gap-down-day high from February at $18.34 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in JCP as long as it’s trending above its 50-day at $16.33 or above today’s low at $15.86 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 17.63 million shares. If that breakout hits soon, then JCP will set up to re-fill some of its previous gap down zone from February that started just above $21.

Superior Energy Services

Superior Energy Services (SPN) provides a wide variety of conventional products and services generally categorized by their typical use during the economic life of a well drilling, completions and production. This stock is trading up 6.7% at $25.97 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 2.92 million

Average Volume: 1.95 million

Volume % Change: 147%

From a technical perspective, SPN is ripping higher here back above its 50-day moving average of $25.54 with heavy upside volume. This move is quickly pushing shares of SPN within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if SPN manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $26.33 to $27 and then once it clears more resistance at $27.36 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in SPN as long as it’s trending above its 50-day at $25.54 or above $25 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 1.95 million shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then SPN will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $28.20 to $30 -- or even $32.

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.

RELATED LINKS:

>>5 Big Names to Trade for Earnings Season
>>Invest Like a Drunk: 5 Booze Stocks to Buy

>>4 Stocks for the Expanding Drought

Follow Stockpickr on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

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.