Stock Quotes in this Article: AFCE, ALJ, CTCT, QIWI

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 today.

Alon USA Energy

Alon USA Energy (ALJ) is a refiner and marketer of petroleum products operating mainly in the South Central, Southwestern and Western regions of the U.S. This stock closed up 4.7% at $12.95 in Tuesday's trading session.

Tuesday's Volume: 1.27 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 574,814

Volume % Change: 122%

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From a technical perspective, ALJ jumped sharply higher here right above some near-term support at $12.14 with strong upside volume. This stock had been downtrending badly for the last four months with shares sliding lower from its high of $18.72 to its recent low of $10.81. During that downtrend, shares of ALJ have been consistently making lower highs and lower lows, which is bearish technical price action. That said, the downside volatility for ALJ looks over and the stock has now started to uptrend. This move is starting to push shares of ALJ within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if ALJ manages to take out its 50-day moving average of $13.03 to Tuesday's high of $13.05 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in ALJ as long as it's trending above some key near-term support levels at $12.14 to $12 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 574,814 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then ALJ will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $13.84 to $14.12. Any high-volume move above those levels will then give ALJ a chance to tag its 200-day moving average at $16.03.

Qiwi

Qiwi (QIWI), along with its subsidiaries, provides payment services in Russia and the CIS. This stock closed up 5.6% at $31.48 in Tuesday's trading session.

Tuesday's Volume: 350,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 208,428

Volume % Change: 90%

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From a technical perspective, QIWI bounced sharply higher here right above some near-term support at $29.66 with above-average volume. This stock has been uptrending strong for the last three months, with shares moving higher from its low of $14.31 to its all-time high of $36. During that uptrend, shares of QIWI have been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. That move has now pushed shares of QIWI within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if QIWI manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $32 to $32.50 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in QIWI as long as it's trending above some near-term support levels at $29.66 or $28 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that this near or above 208,428 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then QIWI will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance level at its all-time high of $36. Any high-volume move above $36 will then give QIWI a chance to tag $40 to $42.

AFC Enterprises

AFC Enterprises (AFCE) develops, operates and franchises quick-service restaurants under the trade names Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. This stock closed up 1.2% at $41.45 in Tuesday's trading session.

Tuesday's Volume: 389,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 172,433

Volume % Change: 138%

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From a technical perspective, AFCE trended up modestly higher here right above some near-term support at $40.50 with above-average volume. This stock has been uptrending strong for the last four months with shares moving higher from its low of $31.13 to its recent high of $43. During that uptrend, shares of AFCE have been making mostly higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. That move has now pushed shares of AFCE within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if AFCE manages to take out its 52-week high at $43 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in AFCE as long as it's trending above some near-term support levels at $41 or above $40.50 and then once it sustains a move or close above its 52-week high at $43 with volume that hits near or above 172,433 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then AFCE will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $47 to $50.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact (CTCT) provides on-demand engagement marketing tools designed for small businesses, associations and non-profits primarily in the U.S. This stock closed up 2.5% to $19.62 in Tuesday's trading session.

Tuesday's Volume: 519,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 274,362

Volume % Change: 115%

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From a technical perspective, CTCT bounced higher here and broke out above some near-term overhead resistance at $19.48 with above-average volume. This move is quickly pushing shares of CTCT within range of triggering another major breakout trade. That trade will hit if CTCT manages to take out some more resistance at $19.80 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in CTCT as long as it's trending above some near-term support levels at $19 or above $18.50 and then once it sustains a move or close above $19.80 with volume that hits near or above 274,362 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then CTCT will set up to re-test or possibly take out its 52-week high at $21.22. Any high-volume move above that level will then put $24 to $26 into range for shares of CTCT.

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.