Stock Quotes in this Article: BX, HTH, IVC, POR, SBLK

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.

Blackstone Group

Blackstone Group (BX) is an alternative asset manager and a provider of financial advisory services. This stock closed up 3.8% to $23.70 in Monday's trading session.

Monday's Volume: 9.83 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 4.55 million

Volume % Change: 215%

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From a technical perspective, BX gapped notably higher here right above its 50-day moving average of $22.40 with heavy upside volume. This move is quickly pushing shares of BX within range of triggering a major breakout trade. That trade will hit if BX manages to take out Monday's high of $23.78 and then once it clears its 52-week high at $24.31 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in BX as long as it's trending above $23 or above its 50-day at $22.40 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 4.55 million shares. If that breakout hits soon, then BX will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $30 to $32.

Hilltop

Hilltop (HTH) operates as a holding company for PlainsCapital Bank that provides business and consumer banking services in Texas. This stock closed up 8.7% at $17.96 in Monday's trading session.

Monday's Volume: 2.29 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 414,214

Volume % Change: 436%

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From a technical perspective, HTH gapped up sharply higher here back above its 50-day moving average of $16.52 with strong upside volume. This move pushed shares of HTH into breakout and new 52-week-high territory, since the stock closed above some previous resistance at $17.63.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in HTH as long as it's trending above Monday's low of $17.07 and then once it sustains a move or close above its new 52-week high at $18.23 with volume that this near or above 414,214 shares. If we get that move soon, then HTH will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that move are $20 to $23.

Star Bulk Carriers

Star Bulk Carriers (SBLK) provides worldwide transportation of drybulk commodities through its vessel-owning subsidiaries for a range of customers and minor bulk cargoes including iron ore, coal, grain, cement and fertilizer. This stock closed up 7.9% at $10.58 in Monday's trading session.

Monday's Volume: 243,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 64,367

Volume % Change: 228%

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From a technical perspective, SBLK jumped sharply higher here right above some near-term support at $9.47 with above-average volume. This stock has been uptrending strong for the last two months and change, with shares moving higher from its low of $5.37 to its recent high of $11.53. During that move, shares of SBLK have been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. That move has now pushed shares of SBLK within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if SBLK manages to take out its 52-week high at $11.53 and then once it clears some past resistance at $11.98 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in SBLK as long as it's trending above near-term support at $9.47 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 64,367 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then SBLK will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are its next major overhead resistance levels at $14 to $15.

Invacare

Invacare (IVC) designs, manufactures and distributes a line of health care products for the non-acute care environment, including the home health care, retail and extended care markets. This stock closed up 2.3% at $16.73 in Monday's trading session.

Monday's Volume: 218,000

Three-Month Average Volume: 143,188

Volume % Change: 75%

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From a technical perspective, IVC jumped higher here right above some near-term support at $16 with above-average volume. This move briefly pushed shares of IVC into breakout territory, since the stock flirted with some past resistance at $16.81. This move is also close to pushing shares of IVC above the upper-end of its recent sideways trading price action, that has seen IVC trade between $14.92 on the downside and $16.81 on the upside.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in IVC as long as it's trending above its 50-day at $15.75 and then once it sustains a move or close above Monday's high of $16.84 with volume that's near or above 143,188 shares. If we get that move soon, then IVC will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $18.24 to $19.15.

Portland General Electric

Portland General Electric (POR) is a vertically integrated electric utility engaged in the generation, purchase, transmission, distribution and retail sale of electricity in the state of Oregon. This stock closed up 2.1% at $28.21 in Monday's trading session.

Monday's Volume: 1.89 million

Three-Month Average Volume: 732,569

Volume % Change: 145%

From a technical perspective, POR gapped up modestly higher here right above its recent low of $27.57 with strong upside volume. This stock has been downtrending badly for the last month and change, with shares dropping from its high of $33.26 that low of $27.57. During that downtrend, shares of POR have been consistently making lower highs and lower lows, which is bearish technical price action. That said, shares of POR could be setting up to see an end to its recent downside volatility in the short-term. Shares of POR could easily rebound here off oversold levels, since its current relative strength index reading is 39.74.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in POR as long as it's trending above that recent low of $27.57 and then once it sustains a move or close above some near-term overhead resistance at $28.50 with volume that's near or above 732,569 shares. If we get that move soon, then POR will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $29 to its 200-day at $29.45. Any high-volume move above those levels will then give POR a chance to tag its 50-day at $30.09 to more near-term overhead resistance at $31.

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.