BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- The S&P 500 made its first material move lower in 10 trading days yesterday, but the bears just didn't have their hearts in it. The index shed just 0.51% after gaining nearly 10 times that thus far in December.

All told, the last 15 days have provided nearly half of the market's year-to-date gains this year, a fact does a fairly good job of illustrating just how sideways stocks have moved in 2010. But that doesn't mean that there weren't gain to be made this year. In fact, scores of traders have had banner years since January, as a mini boom-and-bust cycle in stocks provided ample volatility to take advantage of.

Even though


is just a couple of weeks away, there's still action taking place in some of Wall Street's most heavily traded names. For that reason, we're taking our typical technical look at three high-volume issues this week.

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4 Market Leaders Poised to Break Out

In case you're not familiar, technical analysis uses a stock's price movements to determine where shares are headed in the future. Technical charts are used every day by proprietary trading floors, the Street's biggest financial firms and individual investors to get an edge on the market. And according to some sources, skilled technical traders can bank gains as much as 90% of the time.


this week's look

at how some of the biggest names on Wall Street are trading technically.


(C) - Get Report

hasn't been hampered by the broad market's sideways churn this year. Shares of the $133 billion

banking giant

have risen nearly 40% in the trailing 11 and a half months.

Nearly half of those gains have come in the last quarter, as

improving fundamentals for financial stocks

got buying pressure behind shares once again. But now's a good time to hold off if you're considering joining the herd.

Citi closed at a near-term high of $4.81 on Monday, a number that's currently holding up as a top. Shares sold off around 5% on Tuesday and Wednesday. The closest current support level is at $4.50, and that's the level that looks like the best buying level for long-side investors right now.

With momentum heftily overbought right now, Citi's latest pullback is more a healthy breather than an outright breach of its uptrend; that said, I'd suggest waiting for a confirmed bounce off of $4.50 before I became a buyer of this stock.

Institutional interest in Citigroup is strong -- in fact, it was included in a list of the

top 10 stocks attracting hedge funds' attention

in the last reporting period. It shows up in various professional portfolios, including those of

John Paulson


Bruce Berkowitz

. According to Dan Freed, Citigroup is one of

11 financial stocks most likely to weather inflation


Another financial giant that's making waves this week is

Itau Unibanco

(ITUB) - Get Report

, Latin America's largest private-sector bank.

This stock has looked attractive in recent months for its exposure to

Brazil's robust financial sector

, an industry that's enjoying swift economic tailwinds and rising analyst sentiment right now. As a result, this stock has consistently ranked as one of the highest-volume stocks on the NYSE. If you're considering going long ITUB, now may be the time to jump.

Shares of ITUB have been relatively out of sync with U.S. equities of late, declining in October and November when American stocks enjoyed some of their most bullish action this year. But shares hit support at $22.50 last week, a level that could make for higher ground in the immediate near-term.

The closest upside barrier to ITUB's price action is the 50-day moving average, currently at $24.59. But that indicator hasn't been particularly predictive for this stock in the past, and as a result traders will likely only be paying marginal attention to it.

Instead, look for resistance at $25, the level that hit the brakes on shares the last time that this stock attempted a push back to this year's highs. For downside protection, place your stops at $22.

The award for this week's most intriguing high-profile pattern goes to


(PTR) - Get Report


Unlike its BRIC contemporary above, this stock's price action could be headed distinctly to the downside thanks to a textbook head-and-shoulders pattern.

One of the most recognizable technical setups around (and as a result, one of the most overused and misunderstood), the head-and-shoulders pattern is characterized by three tops: a "head" in the middle and a smaller "shoulder" on either side. The trend line that connects these tops' support levels, known as "shoulder level," is the trigger that suggests it's time to bet against shares.

Right now, PetroChina's head-and-shoulder pattern is still in the forming stages, and shares have yet to break below shoulder level. When they do, however, the sheer profile of this stock is likely to pique traders' interest enough to spur some selling activity.

If you decide to take this trade, be vigilant, shares could move quickly. I'd suggest keeping an upside stop loss around $120.

TheStreet Ratings rates PetroChina a B, earning the stock a spot on its

Top-Rated Oil & Gas Stocks

list. Roberto Pedone recently flagged it as one of several

stocks poised to benefit from higher oil prices

, pointing to its 3.3% dividend yield and offering his own technical take.

To see this week's trades in action, check out the

High Volume Technicals portfolio

on Stockpickr.

-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.


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At the time of publication, author had no positions in stocks mentioned. Jonas Elmerraji, based out of Baltimore, is the editor and portfolio manager of the Rhino Stock Report, a free investment advisory that returned 15% in 2008. He is a contributor to numerous financial outlets, including




, and has been featured in

Investor's Business Daily

, in

Consumer's Digest

and on

Jonas Elmerraji is the editor and portfolio manager of the

Rhino Stock Report

, a free investment advisory that returned 15% in 2008. He is a contributor to numerous financial outlets, including




, and has been featured in

Investor's Business Daily

, in

Consumer's Digest

and on