5 Stocks Breaking Out on Unusual Volume

DELAFIELD, Wis. (Stockpickr) -- 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.

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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.

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With that in mind, let's take a look at several stocks rising on unusual volume recently.

Springleaf

Springleaf (LEAF), through its subsidiaries, offers consumer finance and credit insurance products and services. This stock closed up 6.3% at $26.14 in Friday's trading session.

Friday's Volume: 490,000
Three-Month Average Volume: 294,838
Volume % Change: 85%

From a technical perspective, LEAF spiked sharply higher here right off some near-term support at $24 and back above its 50-day moving average of $24.71 with above-average volume. This move is quickly pushing shares of LEAF within range of triggering a major breakout trade. That trade will hit if LEAF manages to take out some key near-term overhead resistance levels at $26.33 to its all-time high at $27.34 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in LEAF as long as it's trending above some near-term support levels at $24 or $23 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that's near or above 294,838 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then LEAF will set up to enter new all-time-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $30 to $33.

Blackhawk Network

Blackhawk Network (HAWK) provides various prepaid products and payment services. This stock closed up 2.8% to $23.04 in Friday's trading session.

Friday's Volume: 1.54 million
Three-Month Average Volume: 243,066
Volume % Change: 350%

From a technical perspective, HAWK trended higher here right above its recent low of $21.65 with heavy upside volume. This stock recently gapped down sharply from $28.24 to $21.65 with monster downside volume. Following that move, shares of HAWK have started to rebound off that $21.65 low it's now starting to move within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if HAWK manages to take out Friday's high of $23.73 to its gap-down-day high of $23.81 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in HAWK as long as it's trending above Friday's low of $22.21 or that recent low of $21.65 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 243,066 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then HAWK will set up to re-fill some of its gap-down-day zone that started at $28.24.

Stemline Therapeutics

Stemline Therapeutics (STML), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, focuses on the discovery, acquisition, development and commercialization of proprietary therapeutics for cancer stem cells and bulk tumors. This stock closed up 8.1% at $29.82 in Friday's trading session.

Friday's Volume: 594,000
Three-Month Average Volume: 234,893
Volume % Change: 95%

From a technical perspective, STML ripped sharply higher here right above its 200-day moving average of $26.51 with above-average volume. This move is quickly pushing shares of STML within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if STML manages to take out Friday's high of $30.21 to some more near-term overhead resistance at $31.48 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in STML as long as it's trending above its 200-day at $26.51 or above more support at $25 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that this near or above 234,893 shares. If that breakout materializes soon, then STML will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels $33.50 to $35, or even $38.50.

Western Refining

Western Refining (WNR) operates as an independent crude oil refiner and marketer of refined products. This stock closed up 1.3% to $38.98 in Friday's trading session.

Friday's Volume: 7.49 million
Three-Month Average Volume: 1.60 million
Volume % Change: 372%

From a technical perspective, WNR trended modestly higher here right above some near-term support levels at $38 to $37.54 with strong upside volume. This move is starting to push shares of WNR within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if WNR manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $39.62 to $40.14 and then $40.84 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in WNR as long as it's trending above $37.54 or above $36 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 1.60 million shares. If that breakout hits soon, the WNR will set up to re-test or possibly take out its 52-week high at $43.

To see more stocks rising on unusual volume, check out the Stocks Rising on Unusual Volume portfolio on Stockpickr.

-- Written by Roberto Pedone in Delafield, Wis.

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At the time of publication, author had no positions in stocks mentioned. Roberto Pedone, based out of Delafield, Wis., is an independent trader who focuses on technical analysis for small- and large-cap stocks, options, futures, commodities and currencies. Roberto studied international business at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, and he spent a year overseas studying business in Lubeck, Germany. His work has appeared on financial outlets including CNBC.com and Forbes.com. You can follow Pedone on Twitter at www.twitter.com/zerosum24 or @zerosum24.

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