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."

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 recently.

Northstar Asset Management Group

  • Monday's Volume: 8.27 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 2.38 million
  • Volume % Change: 274%

Northstar Asset Management Group (NSAM)  provides asset management and other services in the U.S. and internationally. This stock traded up 10.8% to $11.59 in Monday's trading session.

From a technical perspective, Northstar Asset Management Group spiked sharply higher on Monday with monster upside volume flows. This stock recently formed a double bottom chart pattern, after shares found some buying interest at $10.58 to $10.41 a share. Following that bottom, shares of Northstar Asset Management Group have started to spike higher with strong upside volume flows, and it's now quickly moving within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade above some key overhead resistance levels. That trade will trigger if this stock manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $12.33 to $12.73 a share and then above its 50-day moving average of $12.77 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Northstar Asset Management Group as long as it's trending above Monday's intraday low of $11.17 or above more support at $11 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 2.38 million shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then this stock will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $13.50 to $14, or even $15.40 a share.


FXCM

  • Monday's Volume: 1.18 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 588,098
  • Volume % Change: 176%

FXCM (FXCM) , through its subsidiaries, provides online foreign exchange trading and related services to retail and institutional customers worldwide. This stock traded up 21.6% to $16.55 in Monday's trading session.

From a technical perspective, FXCM soared sharply higher on Monday basically right off both its 200-day moving average of $12.59 and its 20-day moving average of $12.96 a share with strong upside volume flows. This high-volume move to the upside is now quickly pushing shares of FXCM within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will trigger if this stock manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $18 to $18.51 a share and then above resistance to right around $19.50 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in FXCM as long as it's trending above some near-term support at around $14 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 588,098 shares. If that breakout takes hold soon, then this stock will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance level at its recent high of $24.77 a share.

Macy's

  • Monday's Volume: 16.95 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 8.83 million
  • Volume % Change: 124%

Macy's (M) - Get Report , together with its subsidiaries, operates stores and Internet Web sites in the U.S. that sell a range of merchandise. This stock traded up 8.1% to $38.82 in Monday's trading session.

From a technical perspective, Macy's ripped sharply higher on Monday right above its 20-day moving average of $35.92 a share with strong upside volume flows. This stock has been uptrending over the last few weeks, with shares moving higher off its low of $34.05 to its intraday high on Monday of $38.85 a share. During that uptrend, shares of Macy's have been making mostly higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. This high-volume rip to the upside on Monday is now quickly pushing shares of Macy's within range of triggering a big breakout trade above some key near-term overhead resistance levels. That trade will trigger if this stock manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $39.30 to its 50-day moving average of $39.48 a share and then above more resistance at $40.30 a share with volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Macy's as long as it's trending above its 20-day moving average of $35.92 or above more key near-term support at $35.55 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout l levels with volume that hits near or above 8.83 million shares. If that breakout fires off soon, then this stock will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance level at around $42.50. Any high-volume move above $42.50 will then give this stock a chance to re-fill some of its previous gap-down-day zone from November that started at $47.50 a share.

Alere

  • Monday's Volume: 2.45 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 793,259
  • Volume % Change: 232%

Alere (ALR)  provides point-of-care diagnostics and services for infectious disease, cardiometabolic disease and toxicology in the U.S. and internationally. This stock traded up 8% to $39 in Monday's trading session.

From a technical perspective Alere spiked sharply higher on Monday back above its 20-day moving average of $38.93 a share with strong upside volume flows. This high-volume move to the upside on Monday is now quickly pushing shares of Alere within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade above some key overhead resistance levels. That trade will hit if this stock manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $40.17 to its 50-day moving average of $40.61 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Alere as long as it's trending above some near-term support at $36 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that registers near or above 793,259 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then this stock will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $42.30 to $45, or even $48 a share.

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