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."

Stocks with unusual volume are something that I tweet about on a daily basis. These are also the exact type of stocks that I love to trade and alert to my subscribers in real-time.

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.

NuVasive

  • Thursday's Volume: 7.47 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 623,759
  • Volume % Change: 1373%

NuVasive  (NUVA - Get Report)  develops and markets minimally disruptive surgical products and procedurally integrated solutions for spine surgery. This stock closed up 1.5% to $68.06 in Thursday's trading session.

From a technical perspective, NuVasive spiked modestly higher on Thursday right above its 20-day moving average of $65.94 a share with monster upside volume flows. This stock has been uptrending extremely strong over the last six months, with shares soaring higher off its low of $45.35 a share to its recent high of $69 a share. During that uptrend, shares of NuVasive have been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. This high-volume pop to the upside on Thursday is now quickly pushing this stock within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will trigger if this stock manages to take out Thursday's intraday high of $68.13 a share and then once it clears its 52-week high of $69 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in NuVasive as long as it's trending above Thursday's intraday low of $66.94 a share or above its 20-day moving average of $65.94 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 623,759 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then this stock will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $75 to $80 a share.

Esperion Therapeutics

  • Thursday's Volume: 814,000
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 498,177
  • Volume % Change: 160%

Esperion Therapeutics  (ESPR) , a biopharmaceutical company, focuses on the research, development and commercialization of oral and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol-lowering therapies for the treatment of patients with elevated LDL-C. This stock closed up 5.2% to $13.90 in Thursday's trading session.

From a technical perspective, Esperion Therapeutics ripped sharply higher on Thursday with strong upside volume flows. This high-volume rip to the upside is now quickly pushing shares of Esperion Therapeutics 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 Thursday's intraday high of $14.08 a share and then above more key near-term resistance at $14.10 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Esperion Therapeutics as long as it's trending above Thursday's intraday low of $12.61 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 498,177 shares. If that breakout fires off soon, then this stock will set up to re-fill some of its previous gap-down-day zone from June that started just above $16 a share. If that gap gets filled with strong volume flows, then shares of Esperion Therapeutics could easily tag its next major overhead resistance levels at $17 to $18, or even $18.50 to $19 a share.

Horizon Global

  • Thursday's Volume: 322,000
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 146,925
  • Volume % Change: 160%

Horizon Global  (HZN - Get Report)  designs, manufactures and distributes a range of towing, trailering, cargo management and other related accessory products to the automotive aftermarket, retail and original equipment channels worldwide. This stock closed up 4.7% to $19.12 in Thursday's trading session.

From a technical perspective, Horizon Global spiked sharply higher on Thursday right off its 20-day moving average of $18.26 a share with strong upside volume flows. This high-volume rip to the upside managed to push this stock into breakout territory, since it closed above some near-term resistance at $19.02 a share. That move is now quickly pushing shares of Horizon Global within range of triggering a much bigger breakout trade above some key overhead resistance levels. That trade will trigger if this stock manages to take out Thursday's intraday high of $19.19 a share and then once it clears its all-time high of $19.45 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Horizon Global as long as it's trending above its 20-day moving average of $18.26 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 146,925 shares. If that breakout develops soon, then this stock will set up to enter new all-time-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that move are $23 to $25, or even $27 a share.

Life Storage

  • Thursday's Volume: 544,000
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 593,548
  • Volume % Change: 267%

Life Storage  (LSI - Get Report)  is a real estate investment trust. It invests in the real estate markets of U.S. This stock closed up 2.2% to $93.37 in Thursday's trading session.

From a technical perspective, Life Storage jumped higher on Thursday right above its 20-day moving average of $90.54 a share with decent upside volume flows. This high-volume bump to the upside is now quickly pushing shares of Life Storage within range of triggering a big breakout trade above some key overhead resistance levels. That trade will trigger if this stock manages to take out Thursday's intraday high of $93.73 a share and then once it clears more key resistance levels at $94.36 to its 50-day moving average of $94.83 a share and above its gap-down-day high from August at $92.55 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Life Storage as long as it's trending above its 20-day moving average of $90.54 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that registers near or above 593,548 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then this stock will set up to re-fill some of its previous gap-down-day zone from August that started just over $100 a share.

Zynerba Pharmaceuticals

  • Thursday's Volume: 721,000
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 200,111
  • Volume % Change: 363%

Zynerba Pharmaceuticals  (ZYNE - Get Report) , a specialty pharmaceutical company, focuses on developing and commercializing proprietary synthetic cannabinoid therapeutics formulated for transdermal delivery. This stock closed up 8.9% to $12.99 in Thursday's trading session.

From a technical perspective, Zynerba Pharmaceuticals spiked sharply higher on Thursday with strong upside volume flows. This stock has been uptrending strong over the last few weeks, with shares ripping higher off its low of $8.25 a share to its intraday high on Thursday of $13.47 a share. During that uptrend, this stock has been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. Market players should now look for a continuation move to the upside in the short-term if shares of Zynerba Pharmaceuticals manage to clear Thursday's intraday high of $13.47 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Zynerba Pharmaceuticals as long as it's trending above Thursday's intraday low of $11.82 a share or above its previous breakout level at $11.15 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above Thursday's intraday high of $13.47 a share with volume that hits near or above 200,111 shares. If that move gets underway soon, then this stock will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $14 to $15, or even $17 to $18.25 a share.

Imperial Oil

  • Thursday's Volume: 767,000
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 143,764
  • Volume % Change: 408%

Imperial Oil  (IMO - Get Report)  explores for, produces and sells crude oil and natural gas in Canada. This stock closed up 2.4% to $30.69 in Thursday's trading session.

From a technical perspective, Imperial Oil gapped-up notably higher on Thursday back above its 20-day moving average of $30.55 a share and briefly above its 50-day moving average of $30.86 a share with strong upside volume flows. This high-volume bump to the upside is now quickly pushing shares of Imperial Oil 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 Thursday's intraday high of $30.93 a share and then once it clears its 200-day moving average of $31.05 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Imperial Oil as long as it's trending above Thursday's intraday low of $30.40 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 143,764 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 $31.95 to $32.30, or even $33.95 to its 52-week high of $35.48 a share.

International Speedway

  • Thursday's Volume: 435,000
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 109,631
  • Volume % Change: 412%

International Speedway  (ISCA - Get Report) , together with its subsidiaries, promotes motorsports themed entertainment activities in the U.S. This stock closed up 2.5% to $33.85 in Thursday's trading session.

From a technical perspective, International Speedway spiked notably higher on Thursday back above both its 200-day moving average of $33.66 a share and its 50-day moving average of $33.84 a share with monster upside volume flows. This high-volume spike to the upside is now quickly pushing shares of International Speedway 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 Thursday's intraday high of $34.16 a share and then once it clears some more near-term resistance at $34.99 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in International Speedway as long as it's trending above some key near-term support levels at $33 or at $32.75 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 109,631 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 $36.23 to $36.88, or even $37.33 to its 52-week high of $37.87 a share.

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