Professional investors running mutual funds and hedge funds don't just look at a stock's fundamentals, they also track unusual volume. Often, when heavy volume hits a stock, it precedes a notable increase in share price.

Unusual volume can signal institutional activity, such as insider buying or selling, or buying or selling by "superinvestors." These types of investors like to get in well before a bigger trend, so it's always prudent to scan the market for unusual volume activity across all sectors.

With that in mind, let's take a look at several stocks that are showing up on unusual volume scans.

Vista Outdoor

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  • Thursday's Volume: 5.88 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 1.17 million
  • Volume % Change: 295%

From a technical perspective, Vista Outdoor (VSTO) - Get Report spiked big here back above both its 20-day and 50-day moving averages with heavy volume. This high-volume rip is quickly pushing this stock within range of triggering a major breakout trade.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Vista Outdoor as long as it's trending above its 20-day at $19.50 and then once it breaks out above resistance levels at $22 to $23 with volume that hits near or above 1.17 million shares. If that breakout hits soon, then this stock will set up to re-fill some of its previous gap-down-day zone from February that started at $25.85 a share.

AdvanSix

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  • Thursday's Volume: 948,000
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 211,109
  • Volume % Change: 297%

From a technical perspective, AdvanSix (ASIX) - Get Report ripped sharply up here and broke out above some near-term resistance levels at $27.55 to $27.77 with big volume. This high-volume bump to the upside is quickly pushing shares of AdvanSix within range of triggering a much bigger breakout trade.

Traders should look for long-biased trades in AdvanSix as long as it's trending above its 20-day at $26.40 and then once it breaks out above $29.66 to its all-time high of $30.21 with volume that hits near or above 211,109 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then this stock will set up to enter new all-time-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that move are $35 to $40, or even $45 a share.

NVIDIA

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  • Thursday's Volume: 48.49 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 15.35 million
  • Volume % Change: 234%

From a technical perspective, NVIDIA (NVDA) - Get Report trended sharply higher here with monster upside volume flows. Market players should look for a continuation move to the upside in the short-term if this stock manages to print a new 52-week high of with strong volume.

Traders should look for long-biased trades in NVIDIA as long as it's trending above Thursday's intraday low of $119.91 and then once it clears its new 52-week high of $130.43 with volume that hits near or above 15.35 million shares. If NVIDIA closes into new 52-week-high territory soon, then this stock could easily tag $135 to $140, or even $145 a share.

Flex

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  • Thursday's Volume: 10.23 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 3.24 million
  • Volume % Change: 227%

From a technical perspective, Flex (FLEX) - Get Report spiked sharply up here back above its 20-day at $15.73 and its 50-day at $16.23 with strong upside volume. This high-volume bump to the upside is quickly pushing shares of Flex within range of triggering a major breakout trade.

Traders should look for long-biased trades in Flex as long as it's trending above its 20-day at $15.73 and then once it breaks out above some key resistance levels at $16.33 to $16.88 and then over its 52-week high of $16.99 with volume that hits near or above 3.24 million shares. Some possible upside targets if Flex closes into new 52-week-high territory soon, are $20 to $25 a share.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals

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  • Thursday's Volume: 107.06 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 22.25 million
  • Volume % Change: 446%

From a technical perspective, Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) exploded higher here and broke out above $13 a share with monster upside volume flows. This high-volume bump to the upside is now quickly pushing shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals within range of triggering another key breakout trade above a key downtrend line.

Traders should look for long-biased trades in Valeant Pharmaceuticals as long as it's trending above Thursday's intraday low of $12.35 and then once it breaks out above some near-term resistance at $14.55 with volume that hits near or above 22.25 million shares. If that breakout fires off soon, then this stock will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next key resistance levels at $16 to $17, or even its 200-day at $17.76 a share.

Yelp

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  • Thursday's Volume: 13.75 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 3.21 million
  • Volume % Change: 370%

From a technical perspective, Yelp (YELP) - Get Report spiked notably higher here right above its recent gap-down-day low of $26.93 with monster upside volume. This high-volume spike is coming after shares of Yelp gapped-down the previous trading session from $36 to $26.93 with even bigger downside volume. Market players should now look for a continuation move higher in the short-term if this stock manages to take out Thursday's intraday high with strong volume.

Traders should look for long-biased trades in Yelp as long as it's trending above Thursday's intraday low of $28 and then once it clears Thursday's intraday high of $29.69 with volume that hits near or above 3.21 million shares. If that move gets started soon, then this stock will set up to re-fill some more of its recent gap-down-day zone that started at $36 a share.

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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.