Stock Quotes in this Article: CODE, LVLT, NANO, KEYW

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.

Spansion

Spansion (CODE) provides Flash memory-based embedded systems solutions worldwide. This stock closed up 4.1% to $15.02 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 2.89 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 668,977

Volume % Change: 352%

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From a technical perspective, CODE jumped higher here right above some near-term support at $14 with strong upside volume. This stock has been uptrending strong for the last three months, with shares moving higher from its low of $10.95 to its recent high of $15.59. During that uptrend, shares of CODE have been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. This spike on Wednesday is quickly pushing shares of CODE within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if CODE manages to take out Wednesday's high of $15.45 to its 52-week high of $15.59 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in CODE as long as it's trending above support at $14 or above its 50-day at $13.53 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 668,977 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then CODE will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that move are $19 to $20.

Keyw

Keyw (KEYW), through its subsidiaries, provides mission-critical cybersecurity, cyber superiority, and geospatial intelligence solutions to defense, intelligence, and national security agencies and commercial enterprises in the U.S. This stock closed up 4.6% at $16.59 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 1.96 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 296,997

Volume % Change: 490%

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From a technical perspective, KEYW spiked notably higher here right off its 50-day moving average of $14.55 with heavy upside volume. This move is quickly pushing shares of KEYW within range of triggering a big breakout trade. That trade will hit if KEYW manages to take out some key near-term overhead resistance levels at $17.10 to its 52-week high at $18.43 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in KEYW as long as it's trending above Wednesday's low of $14.26 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that's near or above 296,997 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then KEYW will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $23 to $25.

Nanometrics

Nanometrics (NANO) provides high-performance process control metrology and inspection systems used primarily in the fabrication of integrated circuits, high-brightness LEDs, discrete components and data storage devices in the U.S., Japan, South Korea and internationally. This stock closed up 6.9% to $17.55 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 603,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 92,045

Volume % Change: 513%

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From a technical perspective, NANO gapped sharply higher here with heavy upside volume. This stock briefly took out its 50-day moving average of $18.04 and some near-term overhead resistance at $18.52, before pulling back to close just below those levels at $17.55. This move is starting to push shares of NANO within range of triggering a major breakout trade. That trade will hit if NANO manages to take out Wednesday's high of $18.66 to more resistance at $19.15 and then once it takes out its 52-week high at $19.94 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in NANO as long as it's trending above Wednesday's low of $17.13 or above its 200-day at $16.07 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 92,045 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then NANO will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory above $19.94, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $23 to $25.

Level 3 Communications

Level 3 Communications (LVLT), together with its subsidiaries, operates as a facilities-based provider of a range of integrated communications services primarily in North America, Latin America and Europe. This stock closed up 10% at $34.55 in Wednesday's trading session.

Wednesday's Volume: 5.79 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 1.38 million

Volume % Change: 276%

From a technical perspective, LVLT gapped up sharply higher here back above its 50-day moving average of $32.02 with strong upside volume. This move briefly pushed shares of LVLT into breakout and new 52-week-high territory, since the stock flirted with some near-term overhead resistance at $34.71. Shares of LVLT tagged an intraday high of $34.90, before the stock closed just below that level at $34.55. Market players should now look for a continuation move higher in the short-term if LVLT can manage to take out Wednesday's high of $34.90 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in LVLT as long as it's trending above Wednesday's low of $32.59 or above its 50-day at $32.02 and then once it sustains a move or close above $34.90 with volume that's near or above 1.38 million shares. If we get that move soon, then LVLT will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that move are $40 to $43.

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.