BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- Increased volatility ruled the market yesterday as the S&P 500 found itself in the biggest single-day losses in the past two months. While the index's 1.01% slide was a big change from the seemingly unstoppable rally that stocks have seen since the start of December, it hardly illustrates the wild price swings seen by stocks in this week's trading.

After all, while we've long been overdue for some selling, traders haven't been expecting the bizarre market behavior that characterized yesterday's market session.

Heightened buying and selling activity, fueled by earnings data and economic news, is widely increasing stocks' average daily ranges, a factor in the spiking volatility that's sent the CBOE Market Volatility Index, or VIX, up double digits already this week.

Volatility isn't a universal signal to exit the markets, though. For technical traders, that increased flux can be a sign that there's money to be made in some of the biggest-name stocks on Wall Street.

Related: 3 Stocks Setting Up to Break Out

In case you're not familiar, technical analysis uses a stock's price movements to determine where shares are headed in the future. Technical charts are used every day by proprietary trading floors, the Street's biggest financial firms and individual investors to get an edge on the market. And according to some sources, skilled technical traders can bank gains as much as 90% of the time.

Here's this week's look at how some of the biggest names on Wall Street are trading technically.

IBM One of the biggest winners in yesterday's trading was International Business Machines ( IBM), which reported better-than-expected earnings after the market's close on Tuesday. The company gained 3.35% during yesterday's session, a nice addition to the nearly 20% gains that the company has enjoyed over the course of the last 12 months.

Although earnings boosted shares of IBM, traders shouldn't eschew this stock just yet. There's additional upside potential in shares right now.

IBM had been forming a sort of skewed ascending triangle setup, a breakout pattern that's characterized by a set upside resistance level and higher lows. While the stock actually confirmed a breakout above resistance on Tuesday, the event risk of earnings would have made a long-side play ill-advised. Now that earnings have played their course, however, this stock is well suited to restart its breakout.

Since the broad market is questioning its bull run right now, it's best to wait for the next positive day before taking this trade. A pullback to test support is a very real possibility right now for IBM. That said, this stock's bias is currently to the upside.

IBM comprises 2.6% of Bill Miller's Legg Mason Capital portfolio and 2.7% of Navellier & Associates'. It's one of 10 Dow stocks with the best three-year dividend growth, and with a A buy rating, IBM is one of TheStreet Ratings' top-rated IT services stocks.


There's an equally bullish outlook right now for shares of Chinese oil and gas giant PetroChina ( PTR). While most investors understandably equate this mammoth firm with the People's Republic, it's important to note that the company is embracing the strategy of Western supermajors and has taken big steps toward diversifying its geographic projects. As a result, investors are overwhelmingly bullish on this commodity-driven stock right now.

That shouldn't be a big surprise. Shareholders of PetroChina have seen a nearly 30% increase in their holdings in the last six months. In the immediate term, though, a bullish inverse head-and-shoulders pattern is in traders' crosshairs. Although the inverse head-and-shoulders is one of the least-reliable technical patterns out there, it's well-known enough among nascent technical traders to be worth watching -- especially in big names like PTR.

While this inverse head and shoulders has already made a substantive move, there's additional upside left in this stock. Shares should continue their rally this week.

With a B buy rating from TheStreet Ratings, PetroChina is one of the top-rated oil and gas stocks.

U.S. Bancorp

U.S. Bancorp ( USB) carried on the financial industry's mantle yesterday, with heavy selling despite reporting earnings in the premarket that were in line with analyst expectations. Following Wall Street's response to this stock, further downside could be at hand.

While USB had looked like a stock with breakout potential, yesterday's trading shifted the company's setup to a less-auspicious double top, a bearish pattern that suggests a reversal in direction. The only positive for USB right now is the relatively close-by support level (S1) at the 50-day moving average. That level should serve as somewhat of a downside barrier to slow the stock.

If you decide to bet against shares of U.S. Bancorp, consider placing a protective stop just above its most recent top at $27.50.

U.S. Bancorp is one of the top holdings of Warren Buffett, at 3.1% of his total portfolio, and comprises 9.4% of Gleen Greenberg's portfolio at Brave Warrior Capital. Jim Cramer recently included the stock as one of his big banks with long legs, and with a B- buy rating, USB is one of TheStreet Ratings' top-rated diversified financial services stocks.

To see this week's trades in action, check out the High Volume Technicals portfolio on Stockpickr.

-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.


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At the time of publication, author had no positions in stocks mentioned.

Jonas Elmerraji is the editor and portfolio manager of the Rhino Stock Report, a free investment advisory that returned 15% in 2008. He is a contributor to numerous financial outlets, including Forbes and Investopedia, and has been featured in Investor's Business Daily, in Consumer's Digest and on