Stock Quotes in this Article: CVI, ENSG, HURN, SM

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.

>>5 Stocks Poised for Breakouts

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.

>>5 Rocket Stocks to Buy in December

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

Huron Consulting Group

Huron Consulting Group (HURN) is a provider of operational and financial consulting services. This stock closed up 2.5% at $60.96 in Monday's trading session.

Monday's Volume: 344,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 120,486

Volume % Change: 148%

From a technical perspective, HURN spiked higher here and tagged a new 52-week high at $61.08 with above-average volume. This stock entered new 52-week high territory after it took out some near-term overhead resistance at $61.01. Market players should now look for a continuation move higher in the short-term if HURN can manage to clear Monday's high of $61.08 with strong volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in HURN as long as it's trending above Monday's low of $59.30 or above more near-term support at $58 and then once it sustains a move or close above its new 52-week high at $61.08 with volume that hits near or above 120,486 shares. If we get that move soon, then HURN will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that move are $65 to $68.

TheEnsign Group

TheEnsign Group (ENSG) offers skilled nursing and rehabilitative care services. This stock closed up 2% at $47.76 in Monday's trading session.

Monday's Volume: 141,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 65,086

Volume % Change: 93%

From a technical perspective, ENSG jumped higher here and broke out above some near-term overhead resistance at $45.35 with above-average volume. This move also pushed shares of ENSG into new 52-week-high territory, since the stock closed above $45.35. Market players should now look for a continuation move higher in the short-term if ENSG manages to take out Monday's intraday high of $46.32 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in ENSG as long as it's trending above some near-term support levels at $45 or at $43, and then once it sustains a move or close above its new 52-week high at $46.32 with volume that's near or above 65,086 shares. If we get that move soon, then ENSG will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that move are $50 to $55.

SM Energy

SM Energy (SM) is an independent energy company engaged in the acquisition, exploration, development and production of oil, gas and NGLs in onshore North America. This stock closed up 1.1% at $89.12 in Monday's trading session.

Monday's Volume: 1.30 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 878,928

Volume % Change: 85%

From a technical perspective, SM spiked modestly higher here right above its 50-day moving average of $84.98 with above-average volume. This stock has been trending sideways and consolidating for the last month, with shares moving between $83.52 on the downside and $93.70 on the upside. Shares of SM are now starting to push within range of triggering a big breakout trade above the upper-end of its recent range. That trade will hit if SM manages to take out Monday's high of $89.63, and then once it clears more resistance at $92.57 to its 52-week high at $93.70 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in SM as long as it's trending above its 50-day at $84.98 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that's near or above 878,928 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then SM will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $100 to $105.

CVR Energy

CVR Energy (CVI) is engaged in petroleum refining and nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing industries through its holdings. This stock closed up 1.3% at $40.03 in Monday's trading session.

Monday's Volume: 1.11 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 553,164

Volume % Change: 125%

From a technical perspective, CVI trended modestly higher here with above-average volume. This move briefly pushed shares of CVI into breakout territory, since the stock flirted with some near-term overhead resistance at $41.19. Shares of CVI closed off its intraday high of $41.29 to $40.03. Market players should now look for a continuation move higher in the short-term if CVI can manage to take out Monday's high of $41.29 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in CVI as long as it's trending above Monday's low of $39.45 or above $38, and then once it sustains a move or close above $41.29 with volume that's near or above 553,164 shares. If we get that move soon, then CVI will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at its 200-day moving average of $44.44 to $45. Any high-volume move above those levels will then give CVI a chance to tag $47 to $48.

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.


RELATED LINKS:







Follow Stockpickr on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

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.