Stock Quotes in this Article: DECK, IMH, SAFM, PRLB

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.

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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.

With that in mind, let's take a look at several stocks rising on unusual volume today.

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Deckers Outdoor (DECK)

This is a designer, producer, marketer, and brand manager of innovative, high-quality footwear and accessories. This stock is trading up 5.3% at $34.86 in recent trading.

Today's Volume: 2.64 million

Average Volume: 2.05 million

Volume % Change: 91%

Shares of DECK are moving higher today after Jefferies Group said the stock is less expensive for acquirers with shares down by 56% so far in 2012.

From a technical perspective, DECK is gapping higher here right off some previous support at $32.80 with above-average volume. This move is quickly pushing DECK within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit once DECK manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $35.37 to its 50-day at $35.65 with high volume. At last check, DECK has hit an intraday high of $35.79 and volume is easily above its three-month average volume of 2.05 million shares.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in DECK as long as it's trending above $35.37 to $35.65 with strong upside volume flows. I would consider any upside volume day that registers near or above 2.05 million shares as bullish. If DECK can maintain a trend above those levels, then this stock will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance level at $39.44. Any high-volume move above $39.44 will then put $42.50 to $45 into focus for shares of DECK.

Impac Mortgage (IMH)

This company focuses on mortgage and real estate services including primarily mortgage lending activities and portfolio loss mitigation and real estate service activities, and the management of the long-term mortgage portfolio. This stock is trading up 14.6% at $14.13 in recent trading.

Today's Volume: 206,000

Average Volume: 218,802

Volume % Change: 65%

From a technical perspective, IMH is bouncing strongly here right off some near-term support at $12 with decent volume. This move has also started to push IMH into breakout territory, since the stock is flirting with some near-term overhead resistance at $14. At last check, IMH has hit an intraday high of $14.34 and volume is just a bit below its three-month average action of 218,802 shares.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in IMH as long as it's trending near or above that breakout level of $14 with strong upside volume flows. I would consider any upside volume day that registers near or above 218,802 shares as bullish. If IMH can maintain that trend, then this stock will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $16.20 to $18.

Sanderson Farms (SAFM)

This company is engaged in the production, processing, marketing and distribution of fresh and frozen chicken products. This stock is trading up 2.5% at $49.20 in recent trading.

Today's Volume: 248,000

Average Volume: 241,053

Volume % Change: 93%

From a technical perspective, SAFM is bouncing higher here right above its 50-day moving average of $45.45 with above-average volume. This move has also pushed SAFM into breakout territory, since the stock is trending above some near-term overhead resistance levels at $47.94 to $48.82. At last check, SAFM has hit an intraday high of $49.38 and volume is just starting to surpass its three-month average volume of 241,053 shares.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in SAFM as long as it's trending above those breakout levels with strong upside volume flows. I would consider any upside volume day that registers near or above 241,053 shares as bullish. If SAFM can maintain this trend, then this stock will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $52 to $54.

Proto Labs (PRLB)

This company is a manufacturer of custom parts for prototyping and short-run production. This stock is trading up 3.4% at $35.23 in recent trading.

Today's Volume: 284,000

Average Volume: 213,702

Volume % Change: 115%

From a technical perspective, PRLB is bouncing higher here right above its 50-day moving average of $32.71 with above-average volume. This move is quickly pushing PRLB within range of triggering a major breakout trade. That trade will hit once PRLB manages to take out some key overhead resistance levels at $36.55 to $37.29 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in PRLB as long as it's trending above some near-term overhead resistance at $34.71, and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 213,702 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then PRLB will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $39 to $41.10.

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 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.