Stock Quotes in this Article: GEVA, RCPT, PETX, GWPH, FPRX

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.

GW Pharmaceuticals

GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH) a biopharmaceutical company, together with its subsidiaries, is engaged in discovering, developing and commercializing cannabinoid prescription medicines. This stock closed up 7.1% to $61.85 in Friday's trading session.

Friday's Volume: 1.44 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 213,095

Volume % Change: 602%

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From a technical perspective, GWPH spiked sharply higher here right off some near-term support at $55 with above-average volume. This stock has been uptrending strong for the last five months, with shares moving higher from its low of $10.20 to its recent high of $65.56. During that uptrend, shares of GWPH have been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. This spike on Friday is quickly pushing shares of GWPH within range of triggering a big breakout trade. That trade will hit if GWPH manages to take Friday's high of $64.73 to its all-time high at $65.56 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in GWPH as long as it's trending above some near-term support at $55 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 213,095 shares. If that breakout hits soon, the GWPH will set up to enter new all-time-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout $70 to $75.

Five Prime Therapeutics

Five Prime Therapeutics (FPRX), a clinical-stage biotechnology company, focuses on the discovery and development of protein therapeutics that block cancer and inflammatory disease processes. This stock closed up 10.9% at $13.99 in Friday's trading session.

Friday's Volume: 498,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 82,932

Volume % Change: 514%

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From a technical perspective, FPRX gapped up sharply higher here with strong upside volume. This stock has been downtrending badly for the last month, with shares sliding lower from its high of $21.68 to its recent low of $12.20. During that downtrend, shares of FPRX have been consistently making lower highs and lower lows, which is bearish technical price action. That said, shares of FPRX now look ready to reverse that downtrend and possibly enter a new uptrend, since the stock broke out above a key downtrend line on Friday with volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in FPRX as long as it's trending above Friday's low of $13.48 and then once it sustains a move or close above Friday's high of $14.91 to its 50-day moving average at $15.15 with volume that's near or above 82,932 shares. If we get that move soon, then FPRX will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $17 to $18, or even $20.

Synageva BioPharma

Synageva BioPharma (GEVA), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of therapeutic products for patients with life-threatening rare diseases and unmet medical needs. This stock closed up 6.3% at $90.70 in Friday's trading session.

Friday's Volume: 285,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 181,521

Volume % Change: 85%

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From a technical perspective, GEVA ripped sharply higher here right above some near-term support at $83.60 with above-average volume. This move is quickly pushing shares of GEVA within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if GEVA manages to take out Friday's high of $91.12 to some more near-term overhead resistance at $92.43 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in GEVA as long as it's trending above $85 or above more support at $83.60 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that's near or above 181,521 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then GEVA will set up to re-test or possibly take out its 52-week high at $98.93.

Receptos

Receptos (RCPT), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of various therapeutics for immune disorders. This stock closed up 14.1% at $44.68 in Friday's trading session.

Friday's Volume: 547,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 272,558

Volume % Change: 115%

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From a technical perspective, RCPT skyrocketed higher here right above some near-term support at $38.09 with above-average volume. This move pushed shares of RCPT into breakout territory, since the stock took out some near-term overhead resistance at $43.39. Shares of RCPT are now quickly moving within range of triggering another big breakout trade. That trade will hit if RCPT manages to take out Friday's high of $45.16 to its all-time high at $46.01 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in RCPT as long as it's trending above $42.50 or above Friday's low of $39.17 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 272,558 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then RCPT will set up to enter new all-time-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $50 to $55, or even $60.

Aratana Therapeutics

Aratana Therapeutics (PETX), a development-stage biopharmaceutical company, focuses on the licensing, development and commercialization of prescription medicines for pets in the U.S. and Europe. This stock closed up 4.5% to $22.62 in Friday's trading session.

Friday's Volume: 623,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 188,984

Volume % Change: 310%

From a technical perspective, PETX ripped higher here right above some near-term support at $20.10 with heavy upside volume. This move briefly pushed shares of PETX into breakout territory, since the stock flirted with some near-term overhead resistance at $22.89. Shares of PETX hit an intraday high of $23.45 before it closed just below that level at $22.62. Market players should now look for a continuation move higher in the short-term if PETX can manage to take out Friday's high of $23.45 with strong volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in PETX as long as it's trending above some near-term support at $20.10 or above its 50-day at $19.05 and then once it sustains a move or close above $23.45 with volume that hits near or above 188,984 shares. If we get that move soon, then PETX will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $25 to $28. Any high-volume move above those levels will then set up PETX to challenge its all-time high at $29.32.

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.