Stock Quotes in this Article: AAWW, ALB, SWM, MNST

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.

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Schweitzer-Mauduit International

Schweitzer-Mauduit International (SWM) is a multinational producer of premium specialty papers and a supplier of fine papers to the tobacco industry. This stock closed up 1.3% at $37.13 on Wednesday.

Wednesday's Volume: 480,000

Average Volume: 178,694

Volume % Change: 179%

From a technical perspective, SWM bounced higher here right off some near-term support at $36 to $35.87 with above-average volume. This move is quickly pushing shares of SWM within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if SWM manages to take out its recent gap down day high of $38.24 with high volume. That gap down occurred a few trading sessions ago when shares of SWM plunged from over $40 to $35.87 with heavy downside volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in SWM as long as it’s trending above Wednesday’s low of $36.56 or that that key near-term support at $35.87, and then once it sustains a move or close above $38.24 with volume that hits near or above 178,694 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then SWM will set up to re-fill some of its previous gap down zone that started above $40. Some possible upside targets if SWM gets into that gap are its 50-day at $39.40 or even above $40.

Albemarle

Albemarle (ALB) is a developer, manufacturer and marketer of engineered specialty chemicals. This stock closed up 5.5% at $66.15 on Wednesday.

Wednesday's Volume: 1.80 million

Average Volume: 658,103

Volume % Change: 136%

From a technical perspective, ALB gapped up sharply here right above its 50-day moving average of $62.25 with monster upside volume. That gap up occurred after shares of ALB had been trading inside of a consolidation pattern for the last month at around $61 to $63. This move is now quickly pushing shares of ALB within range of triggering a major breakout trade. That trade will hit if ALB manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance at $67.75 and then once it clears its 52-week high of $68.26 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in ALB as long as it’s trending above today’s low of $64.05, and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 658,103 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then ALB will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $70 to $70.15.

Monster Beverage

Monster Beverage (MNST) develops, markets, sells and distributes beverages in the U.S. and internationally. This stock closed up 1.9% at $47.59 on Wednesday.

Wednesday's Volume: 3.21 million

Average Volume: 2.14 million

Volume % Change: 120%

From a technical perspective, MNST jumped modestly higher here right off some near-term support at $45.80 with above-average volume. This stock has been downtrending badly for the last two months, with shares dropping from its recent high of $57.36 to its low of $45.80. During that move, shares of MNST have been consistently making lower highs and lower lows, which is bearish technical price action.

That said, shares of MNST have started to rebound off that $45.80 low and its now quickly moving within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if MNST manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at its 50-day of $50.56 and then above more resistance at $51.39 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in MNST as long as it’s trending above its recent low of $45.80, and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 2.14 million shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then MNST will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $51.39 to $54.34. Any high-volume move above $54.35 will then put $57.36 into focus for shares of MNST.

Atlas Air Worldwide

Atlas Air Worldwide (AAWW) is a holding company that provides outsourced aircraft and aviation operating services. This stock closed up 1.06% at $46.62 on Wednesday.

Wednesday's Volume: 651,000

Average Volume: 204,674

Volume % Change: 219%

Shares of AAWW were in play on Wednesday after the company announced a 23% increase in adjusted net income for the fourth quarter of 2012, with adjusted net income rising $48.7 million, or $1.83 per share. Full-year adjusted net income jumped 17% to $127 million, or $4.78 per share.

From a technical perspective, AAWW soared higher here right off its 50-day moving average of $44.51 with above-average volume. This stock has been uptrending strong for the last three months, with shares soaring from its low of $39.30 to its recent high of $47.47. During that move, shares of AAWW have been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. That move has now pushed shares of AAWW within range of triggering a major breakout trade. That trade will hit if AAWW manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at its 200-day of $47.14 and then once it clears more resistance at $47.47 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in AAWW as long as it’s trending above its 50-day at $44.51, and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 204,674 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then AAWW will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance level at $50. Any high-volume move above $50 will then give AAWW a chance to re-fill some of its previous gap down zone from last November that started at $55.

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.