'Ominous signal' suggests more selling ahead: Technician

As 2015 wraps up this week, stocks may be signaling a rocky start to the new year.

Ari Wald, head of technical analysis at Oppenheimer, believes the S&P 500 is heading for a steep sell-off in the first quarter of next year. Wald said mounting selling pressure, indicated by declining stocks falling on heavier volume than advancing stocks have risen, may point to a bull market correction in the coming months.

"That's typically an ominous signal," as it often precedes a correction, Wald said Monday on CNBC's "Trading Nation."

In recent months, the S&P 500 has jump-roped between positive and negative returns for 2015. With one week left in the year, the S&P finished Monday nearly flat on the year.

But the big problem, for Wald, is the market's deep drop in August which broke a four-year trend line.

"More time is needed to repair the trend damage that has been done in 2015," Wald said. "Now that this oversold bounce we saw in the fourth quarter is starting to fade here, I think we're setting up for a leg lower over the next couple of months."

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As stocks face more pressure in 2016, Wald said, the next level of support should come in at 1,900, which would be a 7 percent drop from where the index traded Monday.

Dan Heckman, national investment consultant at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, said that while stocks may suffer a pullback in the beginning of 2016, a prolonged market correction is unlikely.

"I don't know that we'll have a deep downturn, mainly because equities are so underowned that those corrections will come and you'll see investors starting to come back into the market," Heckman said in a Monday phone interview with CNBC.

However, market volatility should continue, Heckman said, as investors ponder how earnings, commodities and the Federal Reserve will impact stocks going forward.

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"At the end of the day, we think despite volatility, you will probably see low single-digit returns for equities," in 2016, he said.

Despite some market risks that may continue to scare investors, David Seaburg of Cowen & Co. said he still sees some "extremely investable" pockets within the market. Those spaces include online advertising and e-commerce, Seaburg said, recommending stocks such as Amazon, JD.com, Facebook and Google.

"I do think there are some risks that can derail the market a little bit here," Seaburg said Monday on "Trading Nation." "I'm not looking for a market correction."

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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's “Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET).   In addition, he contributes to CNBCand CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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