The sell-off is spilling into the new year, and 3 experts weigh in on what to expect

The 2018 market hangover spilled into the new year as the major indexes came under more pressure on Wednesday. Three experts weigh in on whether another year of pain is in store for investors:

· "I think 2019 is going to be a story of higher volatility," says Elevation Securities partner Timothy Freeman. "Flexibility will be the key word that people will focus on, and to see if we get that out of the Fed and, again, get some sort of comfort that they will be flexible with policy in the event that we get some of these headwinds that are weighing on us excessively."

· Fiduciary Trust CIO Hans Olsen warns volatility has to be tackled before the markets can embark on a meaningful turnaround. "I think the theme here that we have to keep in mind is 'slowing but growing.' Geopolitics, geoeconomics, trade, etc., they all start to exert themselves much stronger on the psyche of investors, and on prices. I think we're in a market where this volatility that you're talking about is one of the things we'll have to deal with this year," says Olsen. For now, his S&P year-end price target of 2,768 is about 10 percent above the index's current level.

· Fundstrat's Tom Lee is still taking the long view on the current market. "A lot of bull markets that last this long actually turn out to be super long bull markets, right? 1950 to 1972 was 22 years … which means, at the midpoint, this market's got this huge debate. I think that's why we had, in 1962, the Kennedy crash and in 1987 we had the crash that was exactly at the midpoint of that bull market," says Lee. "What happens this year is going to depend on whether economic fundamentals deteriorate, or whether markets overreacted. If there's a lesson from 2018, it's that investors can't bet big. I think everyone's going to start this year really cautious, betting small, and either sentiment gets overly negative and it's going to be a huge buying opportunity, or things have to get really bad."

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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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