Professional traders running mutual funds and hedge funds don't just look at a stock's price moves, they 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 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.

ChipMOS Technologies

ChipMOS Technologies (IMOS) researches, develops, manufactures and sells high integration and high precision IC products. This stock closed up 3.4% to $16.10 in Wednesday's trading session.

  • Wednesday's Volume: 271,000
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 116,244
  • Volume % Change: 140%

From a technical perspective, ChipMOS Technologies spiked notably higher on Wednesday and broke out above some near-term overhead resistance levels at $15.85 to $15.95 a share with strong upside volume flows. This high-volume breakout is now quickly pushing shares of ChipMOS Technologies within range of triggering another big breakout trade. That trade will trigger if this stock manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance levels at $16.25 to $1.6.50 a share and then above its 200-day moving average of $16.73 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in ChipMOS Technologies as long as it's trending above Wednesday's intraday low of $15.63 a share or above its 50-day moving average of $15.02 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 116,244 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then this stock will set up to re-fill some of its previous gap-down-day zone from last October that started near $18 a share. If that gap gets filled with volume, then this stock could easily tag $19 to $20 a share.

Nexstar Broadcasting Group

Nexstar Broadcasting Group (NXST) operates as a television broadcasting and digital media company in the U.S. This stock closed up 7.5% to $65 in Wednesday's trading session.

  • Wednesday's Volume: 1.46 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 638,986
  • Volume % Change: 134%

From a technical perspective, Nexstar Broadcasting Group ripped sharply higher on Wednesday right off some near-term support at $59.90 a share and right above its 50-day moving average of $59.28 a share with strong upside volume flows. This high-volume bump to the upside managed to push this stock into breakout territory, after shares of Nexstar Broadcasting Group closed above both its 20-day moving average of $62.81 a share and above some near-term resistance at $64.90 a share. That move is has now quickly pushing this stock within range of triggering another big breakout trade. That trade will trigger if this stock manages to take out Wednesday's intraday high of $65.05 a share and then once it take out its 52-week high of $67.20 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Nexstar Broadcasting Group as long as it's trending above its 20-day moving average of $62.81 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 638,986 shares. If that breakout fires off 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 move are $70 to $75 a share.

ProAssurance

ProAssurance (PRA) , an insurance holding company, provides property and casualty insurance, and reinsurance products in the U.S. This stock closed up 1.3% to $56.75 in Wednesday's trading session.

  • Wednesday's Volume: 404,000
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 184,530
  • Volume % Change: 138%

From a technical perspective, ProAssurance spiked notably higher on Wednesday right off some near-term support at $55.50 a share and back above its 20-day moving average of $56.39 a share with strong upside volume flows. This high-volume bump to the upside is now quickly pushing shares of ProAssurance 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 around $57 a share to $58.48 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in ProAssurance as long as it's trending above some near-term support at $55.50 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that registers near or above 184,530 shares. If that breakout fires off soon, then this stock will set up to re-test or possibly take out its 52-week high of $63.53 a share.

Univar

Univar (UNVR) distributes commodity and specialty chemical products, and related services worldwide. This stock closed up 2.2% to $28.60 in Wednesday's trading session.

  • Wednesday's Volume: 1.89 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 799,840
  • Volume % Change: 157%

From a technical perspective, Univar spiked sharply higher on Wednesday right off its 20-day moving average of $27.59 a share with strong upside volume flows. This stock has been uptrending very strong over the last six months, with shares moving higher off its low of $17.60 a share to its recent high of $28.98 a share.

During that uptrend, shares of Univar have been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. This pop to the upside is now quickly pushing shares of Univar 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 Wednesday's intraday high of $28.77 a share and then once it clears its all-time high of $28.98 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Univar as long as it's trending above its 20-day moving average of $27.59 a share or above more near-term support at $27.21 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 799,840 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 breakout are $35 to $40 a share.

Merck 

Merck (MRK) provides healthcare solutions worldwide. This stock closed up 2.8% to $61.63 in Wednesday's trading session.

  • Wednesday's Volume: 32.71 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 11.04 million
  • Volume % Change: 210%

From a technical perspective, Merck spiked notably higher on Wednesday right off its 50-day moving average of $60.71 a share with strong upside volume flows. This high-volume bump to the upside is now quickly pushing shares of Merck 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 Wednesday's intraday high of $63.16 a share and then once it clears more key resistance levels at $64.96 to its 52-week high of $65.46 a share with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in Merck as long as it's trending above its 50-day moving average of $60.71 a share or above its 20-day moving average of $60.44 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 11.04 million shares. If that breakout materializes 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 move are $70 to $75 a share.

J.M. Smucker

J.M. Smucker (SJM)  manufactures and markets branded food and beverage products worldwide. This stock closed up 1.4% to $130.65 in Wednesday's trading session.

  • Wednesday's Volume: 2.05 million
  • Three-Month Average Volume: 765,975
  • Volume % Change: 154%

From a technical perspective, J.M. Smucker jumped to the upside on Wednesday right off its 20-day moving average of $128.91 a share with strong upside volume flows. This high-volume move higher briefly pushed this stock into breakout territory, after it flirted with some near-term overhead resistance at $131.28 a share, before closing just below that level at $130.65 a share. Market players should now look for a continuation move to the upside in the short-term if shares of J.M. Smucker manage to take out Wednesday's intraday high of $131.47 a share with strong upside volume flows.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades in J.M. Smucker as long as it's trending above its 20-day moving average of $128.91 a share or above its 50-day moving average of $128.40 a share and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 765,975 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 $133.86 to its 200-day moving average of $135.14 a share, or even $138 to $140 a share.

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

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