Stock Quotes in this Article: GPS, MKTX, QCOR, NTSP, THRM

WINDERMERE, Fla. (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.

Major moves in volume can signal unusual activity, such as insider buying or selling -- or buying or selling by “superinvestors.”

>>5 Stocks Poised for Breakouts

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.

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

>>5 Stocks Under $10 Set to Explode

Questcor Pharmaceuticals

Questcor Pharmaceuticals (QCOR), a biopharmaceutical company, provides prescription drugs for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, nephrotic syndrome and infantile spasms indications. Its products include H.P. Acthar Gel and Doral. This stock is trading up 4.3% at $28.59 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 3.45 million

Average Volume: 1.50 million

Volume % Change: 268%

>>Hedge Funds Hate These 5 Stocks -- but Should You?

From a technical perspective, QCOR is ramping higher here right off its 50-day moving average of $26.88 with monster upside volume. This move has started to push shares of QCOR into breakout territory, since the stock has taken out some near-term overhead resistance at $27.91. Shares of QCOR are now quickly moving within range of triggering another major breakout trade. That trade will hit if QCOR manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $30.39 to $32.50 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in QCOR as long as it’s trending above today’s low of $27.55, and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 1.50 million shares. If that breakout hits soon, then QCOR will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance level at its 200-day moving average of $34.25. Any high-volume move above $34.25 could then send QCOR above $35 in the near future.

MarketAxess

MarketAxess (MKTX) operates an electronic trading platform for corporate bonds and certain other types of fixed-income instruments. This stock is trading up 1.2% at $40.78 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 642,000

Average Volume: 217,832

Volume % Change: 314%

>>4 Loser Stocks Poised for a Comeback in 2013

From a technical perspective, MKTX is moving modestly higher here with above-average volume. This stock has been uptrending strong for the last three months, with shares soaring higher from its low of $27.80 to its recent high of $42.61. During that move, shares of MKTX have been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. That move is quickly pushing shares of MKTX within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if MKTX takes out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $41.76 to $42.61 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in MKTX as long as it’s trending above $40, and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 217,832 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then MKTX will set up to enter new 52-week high territory above $42.76, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that move are $45 to $47.

Gentherm

Gentherm (THRM) designs, develops, manufactures and markets proprietary technology electronic components and systems for sale to car and truck original equipment manufacturers. This stock is trading up 5% to $15.25 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 584,000

Average Volume: 112,948

Volume % Change: 584%

>>5 Big Stock Trades Signaling 'Buy'

From a technical perspective, THRM is gapping up sharply higher here right above some near-term support at $14.50 with above-average volume. This stock has been uptrending strong for the last three months, with shares soaring higher from its low of $11.11 to its intraday high of $16.18. During that move, shares of THRM have been mostly making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. That move has now pushed shares of THRM into breakout territory, since the stock has taken out some near-term overhead resistance at $15.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in THRM as long as it’s trending above $15 or $14.50, and then once it sustains a move or close above $16.18 to $16.50 with volume that hits near or above 112,948 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then THRM will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $17.74 to $18.18.

Gap

Gap (GPS) is an international specialty retailer operating retail and outlet stores. The company sells casual apparel, accessories and personal care products for men, women, and children. This stock is trading up 7.5% at $33.74 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 11.1 million

Average Volume: 5.84 million

Volume % Change: 197%

>>5 Toxic Stocks That Are Poisoning Your Portfolio

From a technical perspective, GPS is soaring higher here back above both its 200-day at $31.76 and its 50-day at $32.02 with monster upside volume. This move is quickly pushing shares of GPS within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if GPS manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $33.88 to $34.50 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in GPS as long as it’s trending above $33 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 5.84 million shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then GPS will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $35.69 to $37.

Netspend

Netspend (NTSP) is a provider of general-purpose reloadable prepaid debit cards, or GPR cards, and related alternative financial services to under banked consumers in the U.S. This stock is trading up 5.1% at $12.88 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 1.42 million

Average Volume: 522,887

Volume % Change: 272%

From a technical perspective, NTSP is spiking higher here right above its gap up day high from Thursday at $12 with monster upside volume. This move has now pushed shares of NTSP into new 52-week high territory above $12.75, which is bullish price action. At last check, NTSP has hit an intraday high of $12.95 and volume is well above its three-month average action of 522,887 shares.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in NTSP as long as it’s trending above today’s low of $12.39 or that gap up day high of $12, and then once it sustains a move or close above $12.46 to $12.75 with volume that hits near or above 522,887 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then NTSP will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance level at $15.90

To see more stocks rising on unusual volume, check out the Stocks Rising On Unusual Volume portfolio on Stockpickr.

-- Written by Roberto Pedone in Winderemere, Fla.


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 Windermere, Fla., 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.