Shares of pharmaceutical player AstraZeneca pls (AZN) - Get Report were moving modestly higher this morning by 0.53% to $30.43 a share on heavy volume. Volume so far during this trading session has registered more than 6.34 million shares, which is above its three-month average action of 4.92 million shares.
Shares of AstraZeneca were down sharply lower last Thursday by close to 15%, tagging its lowest level in five months after a disappointing drug trial. The company reported disappointing results from a phase III study evaluating Imfinzi combination therapy for first-line lung cancer.
The sharp drop for AstraZeneca prompted one of its largest shareholders, fund manager Neil Woodford, to pen a blog piece defending the stock. Woodford said, "The investment case for AstraZeneca is about so much more than this one trial. Across a broad spread of disease areas, the company is developing new groundbreaking therapies which have significant commercial potential."
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Considering those comments from Woodford, let's turn to the chart for AstraZeneca and see if a buying opportunity is flashing here. If you take a look at the chart, you'll notice that shares of AstraZeneca gap-down sharply last Thursday from around $34 to just under $29 with heavy downside volume flows. That sharp move lower caused the stock to close back below both its 20-day and 200-day moving averages.
That said, on Friday the stock rebounded with strong volume and managed to close back above its 200-day moving average of $29.90 a share and back above its gap-down-day high from Thursday at around $29 a share. This high-volume rebound is now quickly pushing this stock within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade above some key overhead resistance levels.
Traders should now look for long-biased trades in this stock if it manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $31.07 to $31.88 a share with high volume. Look for volume on a move or close above those levels that registers near or above its three-month average action of 4.92 million shares. Volume so far today is already above that level with the stock rebounding slightly, so things are shaping up for that potential breakout to hit soon.
If that breakout develops soon, then this stock will set up to refill the rest of that recent gap-down-day zone from Thursday that started near $34 a share. If that gap gets filled with strong volume, then this stock could even tag its next key resistance levels at $34.50 to its 52-week high of $35.60, or even north of $36 a share.
I would avoid this trade or step out if shares of AstraZeneca fall back below Thursday's intraday low of $28.43 a share with above-average volume. A move below that level would likely set the stock up for a re-test of its next significant support levels at $25.70 to $24.75 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.