A recent report from CreditSights suggested that mergers and acquisitions could start picking up in the oil and gas sector during the second half of the year. The research firm cited higher oil and gas prices as a driver of M&A and also relatively cheap valuations across the sector. Also, the firm noted that oil and gas M&A activity is off to its weakest yearly start since 2005, with only $46 billion worth of deals announced.

Stocks that are hot and that could be potential takeover targets are the types of equities that I tweet about on a regular basis.These are also the exact type of stocks that I love to trade and alert to my subscribers in real-time.

Investing based off of the potential for M&A is a tough investment strategy to rely on for consistent returns. That said, looking for strong technical setups among M&A candidates can produce big returns, since you don't have to rely on a takeover to find strong demand that pushes the stock higher.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at a several potential takeover targets in the energy sector from a technical perspective.

Concho Resources

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Concho Resources (CXO) - Get Report , an independent oil and natural gas company, engages in the acquisition, development, exploration and production of oil and natural gas properties in the U.S. This stock traded off 0.17% to $122.19 in Friday's trading session.

  • Friday's Range: $120.24-$122.39
  • 52-Week Range: $69.94-$127.48
  • Friday's Volume: 1.07 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 1.67 million

From a technical perspective, Concho Resources has been uptrending strong over the last five months, with shares moving higher off its low of $69.94 a share to its recent high of $123.01 a share. During that uptrend, shares of Concho Resources have been making mostly higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. That strong uptrend has now pushed this stock within range of triggering a big breakout trade above some key near-term overhead resistance levels. That trade will trigger if shares of Concho Resources manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $122.53 to $123.01 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Concho Resources as long as it's trending above its 20-day moving average of $117.11 a share or above its 50-day moving average of $111.02 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 1.67 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 levels at its 52-week high of $127.48 to $134.13, or even $143 to $149 a share.

Whiting Petroleum

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Whiting Petroleum (WLL) - Get Report , an independent oil and gas company, engages in the acquisition, exploration, development and production of crude oil, natural gas liquids and natural gas in the Rocky Mountains and Permian Basin regions of the U.S. This stock traded off 3.6% to $12.02 in Friday's trading session.

  • Friday's Range: $11.81-$12.43
  • 52-Week Range: $3.35-$36.39
  • Friday's Volume: 16.36 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 30.03 million

From a technical perspective, Whiting Petroleum has been consolidating and trending sideways over the last two months, with shares moving between $9.88 on the downside and $13.19 a share on the upside. This sideways chat pattern has been occurring right above its 50-day moving average of $10.14 a share and right below its 200-day moving average of $12.14 a share. This consolidative price action is coming after shares of Whiting Petroleum uptrended strong since its March low of $3.35 a share. That uptrend has now quickly pushing this stock within range of triggering a big breakout trade. That trade will trigger if this stock manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance level at $12.50 to $13.19 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Whiting Petroleum as long as it's trending above its 20-day moving average of $11.09 a share or above its 50-day moving average of $10.14 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 30.03 million 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 $15 to $17.50, or even around $20 a share.

Oasis Petroleum

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Oasis Petroleum (OAS) - Get Report , an independent exploration and production company, focuses on the acquisition and development of unconventional oil and natural gas resources in the North Dakota and Montana regions of the Williston Basin. This stock traded off 3.3% to $9.97 in Friday's trading session.

  • Friday's Range: $9.84-$10.26
  • 52-Week Range: $3.40-$17.96
  • Friday's Volume: 8.07 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 11.63 million

From a technical perspective, Oasis Petroleum has been uptrending strong over the last four months, with shares moving higher off its low of $4.01 a share to its recent high of $10.81 a share. During that uptrend, shares of Oasis Petroleum have been making mostly higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. This stock has recently pulled back above its high of $10.81 to right around its 20-day moving average of $9.42 a share. That strong uptrend over the last four months has now pushed this stock 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 $10.50 to $10.81 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Oasis Petroleum as long as it's trending above its 20-day moving average of $9.42 a share or above its 200-day moving average of $8.76 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 11.63 million shares. If that breakout develops soon, then this stock will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $14 to $14.15, or even $15 to $16 a share.

Range Resources

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Range Resources (RRC) - Get Report  operates as an independent natural gas, natural gas liquids and oil company. This stock traded flat to $41.36 in Friday's trading session.

  • Friday's Range: $40.93-$42.02
  • 52-Week Range: $19.21-$56.36
  • Friday's Volume: 3.03 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 5.34 million

From a technical perspective, Range Resources has been uptrending very strong over the last three months, with shares moving higher off its recent low of $21.68 a share to its high of $44.68 a share. During that uptrend, this stock has been making mostly higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. That strong uptrend has now pushed shares of Range Resources 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 $44.12 to $44.68 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Range Resources as long as it's trending above its 50-day moving average of $37.95 a share or above more near-term support at $37.09 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 5.34 million shares. If that breakout kicks off soon, then this stock will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $50 to $55, or even $60 to $65 a share.

Antero Resources

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Antero Resources (AR) - Get Report , an independent oil and natural gas company, acquires, explores, and develops natural gas, natural gas liquids, and oil properties in the U.S. This stock traded up 1% to $28.02 in Friday's trading session.

  • Friday's Range: $27.34-$28.05
  • 52-Week Range: $18.50-$40.52
  • Friday's Volume: 1.45 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 2.99 million

From a technical perspective, Antero Resources recently formed a double bottom chart pattern, after shares found some buying interest at$25.07 to $25.36 a share. Following that potential bottom, shares of Antero Resources have now started to uptrend and move back above both its 50-day moving average of $26.44 a share to its 20-day moving average of $26.49 a share. That uptrend has now pushed this stock within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will trigger if this stock manages to take out Friday's intraday high of $28.05 a share to some more key resistance at $28.48 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Antero Resources as long as it's trending above its 50-day moving average of $26.44 a share or above those recent double bottom support levels and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 2.99 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 $30.66 to $32.50, or even $35 a share.

Anadarko Petroleum

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Anadarko Petroleum (APC) - Get Report  engages in the exploration, development, production and marketing of oil and gas properties. This stock traded off 1.4% to $51.53 in Friday's trading session.

  • Friday's Range: $51.01-$51.98
  • 52-Week Range: $28.16-$85.43
  • Friday's Volume: 3.88 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 6.39 million

From a technical perspective, Anadarko Petroleum has been uptrending strong over the last five months, with shares moving higher off its low of $28.13 a share to its recent high of $55.46 a share. During that uptrend, shares of Anadarko Petroleum have been making mostly higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. This stock has recently started to trend back above both its 50-day moving average of $48.87 a share and its 20-day moving average of $48.98 a share. That trend is now quickly pushing this stock 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 its 200-day moving average of $53.26 a share to $53 a share and then above more key resistance at $55.46 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Anadarko Petroleum as long as it's trending above its 50-day moving average of $48.87 a share or above more near-term support at $47.51 to $44.81 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that registers near or above 6.39 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 $58 to $63, or even $65 to $70 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.