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.

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 recently.

Conatus Pharmaceuticals

Conatus Pharmaceuticals (CNAT), a biotechnology company, focuses on the development and commercialization of medicines to treat liver diseases in the U.S. This stock closed up 6.3% to $11.65 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 902,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 469,908

Volume % Change: 95%

From a technical perspective, CNAT spiked sharply higher here right above some near-term support at $10.67 with strong upside volume. This move is quickly pushing shares of CNAT within range of triggering a major breakout trade. That trade will hit if CNAT manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $12.44 to $12.47 with strong volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in CNAT as long as it's trending above support at $10.67 or above $10 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 469,908 shares. If that breakout gets underway soon, then CNAT will set up to re-test or possibly take out its all-time high at $15.67. Any high-volume move above that level could set up CNAT for a monster run towards $20.

Chemical & Mining Co. of Chile

Chemical & Mining Co. of Chile (SQM) engages in the production and distribution of specialty plant nutrients, iodine and its derivatives, lithium and its derivatives, potassium chloride and potassium sulfate, industrial chemicals and other commodity fertilizers. This stock closed up 7.8% at $28.74 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 2.92 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 688,910

Volume % Change: 305%

From a technical perspective, SQM jumped sharply higher here right above its 50-day moving average of $25.96 with strong upside volume. This stock has been uptrending a bit for the last month, with shares moving higher from its low of $24.24 to its intraday high of $28.80. During that move, shares of SQM have been making mostly higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. This spike on Wednesday is quickly pushing shares of SQM within range of triggering a big breakout trade. That trade will hit if SQM manages to take out some key overhead resistance levels at $28.85 to $29 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in SQM as long as it's trending above Wednesday's low of $26.55 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 688,910 shares. If that breakout materializes soon, then SQM will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at its 200-day moving average of $30.88 to $32.52.

International Bancshares

International Bancshares (IBOC), a financial holding company, provides commercial and retail banking services. This stock closed up 2.6% to $22.91 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 790,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 190,713

Volume % Change: 322%

From a technical perspective, IBOC trended notably higher here with strong upside volume. This stock has been downtrending badly over the last two months, with shares moving lower from its high of $27.20 to its recent low of $21.16. During that move, shares of IBOC have been consistently making lower highs and lower lows, which is bearish technical price action. That said, shares of IBOC have now started to rebound off that $21.16 low and it's quickly moving within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if IBOC manages to take out Wednesday's high of $23 to its 200-day moving average of $23.34 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in IBOC as long as it's trending above $22 or $21.50 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 190,713 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then IBOC will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at its 50-day moving average of $24.41 to $26.

Marin Software

Marin Software (MRIN) operates a cloud-based digital advertising management platform. This stock closed up 4.5% to $12.05 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 826,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 215,313

Volume % Change: 426%

From a technical perspective, MRIN jumped sharply higher here right off its 200-day moving average of $11.25 with above-average volume. This move is quickly pushing shares of MRIN within range of triggering a big breakout trade. That trade will hit if MRIN manages to take out Wednesday's high of $12.14 to some more key overhead resistance levels at $12.57 to $12.84 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in MRIN as long as it's trending above its 200-day at $11.25 or above $11 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 215,313 shares. If that breakout kicks off soon, then MRIN will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $14.37 to $15.

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.