Stock Quotes in this Article: AFG, COLM, OMCL, CLD

WINDERMERE, Fla. (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.”

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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.

Cloud Peak Energy

Cloud Peak Energy (CLD) is a producer of coal in the U.S. and in the Powder River Basin. This stock is trading up 10.6% at $21.05 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 2.6 million

Average Volume: 781,305

Volume % Change: 388%

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From a technical perspective, CLD is ripping higher here right off some near-term support at $19.50 with above-average volume. This move has also pushed CLD into breakout territory, since the stock has started to move above some near-term overhead resistance at $20.55.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in CLD as long as it’s trending above $20.55 with strong upside volume flows. I would consider any upside volume day that registers near or above 781,305 shares as bullish. If CLD can maintain that trend, then this stock will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next significant overhead resistance level at $24 to $24.34. The probability of hitting those levels will increase once CLD takes out today’s high of $22.31 with volume.

Omnicell

Omnicell (OMCL) is a provider of automated solutions for hospital medication and supply management. This stock is trading up 9.8% at $14.55 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 436,000

Average Volume: 196,966

Volume % Change: 269%

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From a technical perspective, OMCL is gapping up strong here back above its 50-day at $14.04 and its 200-day at $14.51 with above-average volume. This move is quickly pushing OMCL within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit once OMCL manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $14.76 to $15.30 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in OMCL as long as it’s trending above its 200-day at $14.51, and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 196,966 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then OMCL will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $15.49 to $15.66. Any high-volume move above those levels will then set up OMCL to hit $16.50 to $17 in the near future.

Columbia Sportswear

Columbia Sportswear (COLM) is engaged in the design, sourcing, marketing and distribution of outdoor apparel, footwear, accessories and equipment. This stock is trading up 3.4% at $55.56 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 220,000

Average Volume: 134,831

Volume % Change: 222%

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From a technical perspective, COLM is moving notably higher here with above-average volume. This move has started to push COLM into breakout territory, since the stock has challenged some near-term overhead resistance levels at $54.76 to $55.57. At last check, COLM has hit an intraday high of $57.21 and volume is well above its three-month average action of 134,831 shares.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in COLM as long as it’s trending above $54.76 with strong upside volume flows. I would consider any upside volume day that registers near or above its three-month average volume of 134,831 shares as bullish. If COLM can maintain that trend, then look for this stock to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance level at $57.87. Any high-volume move above $57.87 will put $60 to $62.50 into focus for COLM.

American Financial Group

American Financial Group (AFG) is a holding company that, through its subsidiaries, is engaged mainly in property and casualty insurance. This stock is trading up 1.1% at $38.91 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 937,000

Average Volume: 495,783

Volume % Change: 192%

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From a technical perspective, AFG is moving modestly higher here with above-average volume. This move is quickly pushing AFG within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit once AFG manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance at $39.48 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in AFG as long as it’s trending above some near-term support at $38.26, and then once it sustains a move or close above $39.48 with volume that hits near or above 495,783 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then AFG will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance level at $40.54. Keep in mind that any move above $40.54 will push AFG into new 52-week high territory, which would be bullish technical price action.

To see more stocks rising on unusual volume, check out the Stocks Rising on Unusual Volume portfolio on Stockpickr.

-- Written by Roberto Pedone in Winderemere, Fla.


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At the time of publication, author had no positions in stocks mentioned.

Roberto Pedone, based out of Windermere, Fla., is an independent trader who focuses on stocks, options, futures, commodities and currencies. He is also an outside contributor to Beconequity.com and maintains the website Maddmoney.net, which he sold to Blue Wave Advisors in 2008. Roberto studied International Business at The Milwaukee School of Engineering, and he spent a year overseas studying business in Lubeck, Germany.