Stock Quotes in this Article: AGO, CNX, DGX, DPM, JCP

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.”

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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.

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DCP Midstream Partners
DCP Midstream Partners (DPM) is engaged in the business of gathering, compressing, treating, processing, transporting and selling natural gas; producing, transporting, storing and selling propane in wholesale markets; and transporting and selling NGLs and condensate. This stock is trading up 2% at $42.10 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 241,000

Average Volume: 186,805

Volume % Change: 95%

From a technical perspective, DPM is bouncing modestly higher here back above its 200-day moving average of $41.86 with above-average volume. This move is also coming just above its 50-day moving average of $41.12.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in DPM as long as it’s trending above its 50-day at $41.12, and then once it sustains a move or close above its 200-day at $41.86 with volume that hits near or above 186,805 shares. If DPM can maintain that trend, then this stock will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $43.75 to $45.

Assured Guaranty

Assured Guaranty (AGO) provides credit enhancement products to the public finance, structured finance and mortgage markets. This stock is trading up 2.6% at $14.99 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 3.67 million

Average Volume: 1.35 million

Volume % Change: 180%

Shares of AGO are moving higher today after MKM Partners maintained its buy rating and $28 12-month price target on the stock, despite the fact that Moody’s Investors Service downgraded its rating on the stock to A2 from Aa3.

From a technical perspective, AG is ripping higher here right off its 50-day moving average of $14.16 with heavy upside volume. This move is quickly pushing shares of AGO within range of triggering a major breakout trade. That trade will hit if AGO manages to clear some key overhead resistance levels at $15.72 to $15.83 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in AGO as long as it’s trending above its 50-day at $14.16, and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 1.35 million shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then AGO will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $16.50 to $17. Any high-volume move above $17 will then give AGO a chance to re-fill some of its previous gap down zone from last March that started near $19.

Consol Energy

Consol Energy (CNX) is a multi-fuel energy producer and energy services provider that mainly serves the electric power generation industry in the U.S. This stock is trading up 4% at $31.85 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 4.70 million

Average Volume: 2.71 million

Volume % Change: 89%

Shares of CNX are trending higher today after the company said its mines and gas operations ran well during the quarter.

From a technical perspective, CNX is spiking higher here back above its 200-day moving average of $31.46 with heavy upside volume. This move is quickly pushing CNX within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if CNX manages to take out its 50-day moving average of $32.20 and some more overhead resistance at $33 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in CNX as long as it’s trending above its 200-day at 31.46, and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that this near or above 2.71 million shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then CNX will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $35.27 to $37.01.

Quest Diagnostics

Quest Diagnostics (DGX) is a provider of diagnostic testing, information and services, providing insights that enable patients and physicians to make better healthcare decisions. This stock is trading up 1% at $61.02 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 2.54 million

Average Volume: 897,982

Volume % Change: 267%

Shares of DGX are trending up today ahead of the company’s earnings report which is set for Wednesday, January 23, 2013.

From a technical perspective, DGX is moving modestly higher here with heavy upside volume. This move has started to push shares of DGX into breakout territory, since the stock has cleared some near-term overhead resistance at $60.51. Shares of DGX are now moving within range of triggering another major breakout trade. That trade will hit if DGX manages to take out its gap down day high from last October at $61.78 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in DGX as long as it’s trending above its breakout price of $60.51, and then once it sustains a move or close above its gap down day high of $61.78 with volume that hits near or above 897,982 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then DGX will set up to re-fill some of its previous gap down zone that started near $64.

J.C. Penny

J.C. Penny (JCP) sells merchandise and services to consumers through its department stores and direct channels. It sells family apparel and footwear, accessories, fine and fashion jewelry. This stock is trading up 3.4% at $18.77 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 12.99 million

Average Volume: 9.64 million

Volume % Change: 180%

From a technical perspective, JCP is spiking higher here right above some near-term support at $17.36 with above-average volume. This stock has been downtrending for the last month and change, with shares falling from its recent high of $21.69 to its low of $17.36. During that move, shares of JCP have been consistently making lower highs and lower lows, which is bearish technical price action. That said, shares of JCP are now moving within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade and reversing that recent downtrend. That breakout will hit if JCP manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance at its 50-day of $18.90 and then more overhead resistance at $19.10 to $19.23 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in JCP as long as it’s trending above some near-term support at $17.36, and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 9.64 million shares. If that breakout hits soon, then JCP will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at its

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.


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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.