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 move in the share price. The smart money likes to get in well before a big trend develops, 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 six stocks that are showing up on unusual volume scans.

Reata Pharmaceuticals Inc.

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  • Monday's Volume: 183,000
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 72,466
  • Volume % Change: 151%

From a technical perspective, Reata Pharmaceuticals Inc. (RETA) - Get Report ripped sharply higher right above its 20-day moving average at $26.77 with strong upside volume flows. This high-volume jump to the upside is now quickly pushing this stock within range of triggering a big breakout trade.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Reata as long as it's trending above its 20-day at $26.77 or above its 200-day at $24.66. Then once it breaks out above some near-term resistance levels at $29.50 to $29.71, and over $30 with volume that hits near or above 72,466 shares.

Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $36 to $37, or even $40 a share.

Anika Therapeutics Inc.

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  • Monday's Volume: 248,973
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 106,085
  • Volume % Change: 85%

From a technical perspective, Anika Therapeutics Inc. (ANIK) - Get Report ripped higher back above both its 50-day moving average at $45.81 and its 200-day at $46.64 with above-average volume flows. This high-volume spike to the upside is now quickly pushing this stock within range of triggering a major breakout trade above some key overhead resistance levels.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Anika as long as it's trending above its 50-day at $45.81 or above more near-term support at $44.95. And then once it breaks out above some key resistance levels at $47.94 to $48 with volume that hits near or above 106,085 shares.

Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $50 to $52.39, or even its 52-week high of $54.96 a share.

Alibaba Group Holding Limited

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  • Monday's Volume: 24.95 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 14.26 million
  • Volume % Change: 80%

From a technical perspective, Alibaba Group Holding Limited (BABA) - Get Report jumped notably right above some near-term support at $133.10 with solid upside volume flows. This stock has been uptrending very strong over the last six months, with shares moving sharply higher from its low of $86.01 to its recent high of $148.29 a share. The high-volume jump on Monday is now quickly pushing the stock within range of triggering a key breakout trade above a near-term downtrend line.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Alibaba as long as it's trending above some key support at $133.10 and then once it breaks out above Monday's intraday high of $140.40 to more resistance at $142.50 with volume that hits near or above 14.26 million shares.

If that breakout hits soon, then this stock will make a run at its 52-week high of $148.29 a share.

Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc.

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  • Monday's Volume: 927,000
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 375,000
  • Volume % Change: 252%

From a technical perspective, Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ARNA) - Get Report ripped higher back above both its 50-day moving average at $13.26 and its 20-day at $13.54, with strong upside volume flows. This high-volume spike to the upside is now quickly within range of triggering a big breakout trade above a key near-term downtrend line.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Arena as long as it's trending above its 50-day at $13.26 and then once it breaks out above a key downtrend line that will trigger over $14.30 to $14.80 and then above its 200-day at $14.81 to $15 with volume that hits near or above 375,000 shares.

Some possible upside targets off that breakout are its next key resistance levels at $17 to $19.20 a share.

Portola Pharmaceuticals Inc.

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  • Monday's Volume: 1.91 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 690,255
  • Volume % Change: 180%

From a technical perspective, Portola Pharmaceuticals Inc. (PTLA) - Get Report jumped notably higher right into its 20-day moving average of $37.14 with heavy upside volume flows. This high-volume rip higher is now quickly pushing this stock within range of triggering a major breakout trade above a key downtrend line that dates back to May.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Portola as long as it's trending above Monday's intraday low of $32.57 and then once it breaks out above a key downtrend line. That should trigger over its 50-day at $38.37 and then above more resistance at $39.08 with volume that hits near or above 690,255 shares.

Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $41 to $42.74, or even $45 a share.

Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc.

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  • Monday's Volume: 628,000
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 351,690
  • Volume % Change: 85%

From a technical perspective, Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ICPT) - Get Report spiked sharply higher and broke out above its 200-day moving average at $121.14 and over some key near-term resistance levels at $123.85 to $124.44 with bullish upside volume flows. Market players should now look for a continuation move to the upside if this stock manages to clear its next key resistance levels with high volume.

Traders should look for long-biased trades in Intercept as long as it's trending above its previous breakout levels at $123.85 or above its 200-day at $12.14, and then once it sustains a move or close above Monday's intraday high of $128.68 to more near-term resistance at $129.85 with volume that hits near or above 351,690 shares.

If that move gets underway soon, then the stock can re-test or possibly take out its next key resistance levels at $132.85 to $135.25, or even $140 to $150 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.