Stock Quotes in this Article: CUTR, IRWD, PTC, CRTO

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.

Criteo

Criteo (CRTO), together with its subsidiaries, operates as a technology company that enables e-commerce companies to leverage large volumes of granular data to engage and convert their customers. This stock closed up 4.4% at $38.76 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 620,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 186,518

Volume % Change: 358%

From a technical perspective, CRTO spiked sharply higher here with strong upside volume. This move briefly pushed shares of CRTO into breakout territory, since the stock flirted with or took out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $37.65 to $38.95. Shares of CRTO closed just below that second breakout level of $38.95 to finish the trading session at $38.76. Market players should now look for a continuation move higher in the short-term if CRTO manages to take out Wednesday's high of $40.57 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in CRTO as long as it's trending above Wednesday's low of $38.14 or above $37 and then once it sustains a move or close above $40.57 with volume that's near or above 186,518 shares. If we get that move soon, then CRTO will set up to re-test or possibly take out its all-time high at $45.

PTC

PTC (PTC) engages in the development, marketing and support of product lifecycle management software solutions and related services worldwide. This stock closed up 2.3% at $37.34 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 1.70 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 715,954

Volume % Change: 132%

From a technical perspective, PTC ripped higher here and broke out above some near-term overhead resistance at $36.79 with strong upside volume. This move is quickly pushing shares of PTC within range of triggering an even bigger breakout trade. That trade will hit if PTC manages to take out Wednesday's high of $37.51 to its 52-week high at $38.50 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in PTC as long as it's trending above $36 to $35 or it 50-day at $34.43 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that's near or above 715,954 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then PTC will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $45 to $50.

Cutera

Cutera (CUTR) is engaged in the design, development, manufacture, marketing and servicing of laser and light-based aesthetics systems for practitioners worldwide. This stock closed up 8.5% at $10 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 421,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 75,071

Volume % Change: 537%

From a technical perspective, CUTR ripped sharply higher here right off its 50-day moving average of $9.52 with heavy upside volume. This move pushed shares of CUTR into breakout territory, since the stock took out some near-term overhead resistance at $9.77. Shares of CUTR are now starting to trend within range of triggering an even bigger breakout trade. That trade will hit if CUTR manages to take out Wednesday's high of $10.19 to some more key overhead resistance levels at $10.43 to $10.61 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in CUTR as long as it's trending above its 50-day at $9.52 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that's near or above 75,071 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then CUTR will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $12.19 to $13.

Ironwood Pharmaceuticals

Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (IRWD), is a pharmaceutical company, which discovers, develops and intends to commercialize differentiated medicines. This stock closed up 4.2% at $13.61 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 3.02 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 1.01 million

Volume % Change: 250%

From a technical perspective, IRWD jumped sharply higher here right above its 50-day moving average of $12.33 with above-average volume. This spike is starting to push shares of IRWD within range of triggering a major breakout trade. That trade will hit if IRWD manages to take out Wednesday's high of $13.75 and then once it clears more near-term overhead resistance levels $14.57 to $15.05 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in IRWD as long as it's trending above $13 or above its 50-day at $12.33 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that's near or above 1.01 million shares. If that breakout hits soon, then IRWD will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $16 to $18, or even its 52-week high at $19.67.

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.