One chart suggests Tesla could have trouble breaking higher

Tesla's rally appears to have stalled.

After surging more than 25 percent in the fourth quarter, the electric car maker has stumbled 13 percent this month.

One chart watcher says its technicals cast doubt the stock can break new ground.

"It's been range-bound, and it's really been going on for over four years now," Matt Maley, equity strategist at Miller Tabak, told CNBC's "Trading Nation" on Wednesday. "The stock is trading just below $300. That's exactly where it was September of 2014."

Tesla hit a high point of $291.42 that month more than four years ago. It now trades just over 1 percent below that level.

The stock has had some wild swings to go nowhere in recent years, adds Maley.

"When you get a stock that can fall 40 to 50 percent within a range and rally 30 percent, that's a certain amount of risk involved. But four years later, you end up with a net-no move, zero gain," he said.

The options market also has doubted that Tesla can break out, says Stacey Gilbert, head of derivative strategy at Susquehanna.

"I would call the flow that we're seeing now 'cautiously pessimistic,'" Gilbert said on "Trading Nation" on Wednesday. "Most of the flow seems to be leaning short whether that be the short interest which is roughly 20 percent here or just some of the options activity that we're seeing."

Tesla is one of the most heavily shorted stocks on Wall Street. It has short interest at 20 percent of its float, meaning investors have bought short positions on the expectation its stock will decline.

"On the downside, where we're seeing investors draw a line in the sand, either closing out of short stock positions or willing to purchase Tesla shares here seems to be around that $250 to $270 level," added Gilbert. "The sentiment continues to lean slightly bearish here."

A drop to $250 represents a 13 percent decline for Tesla shares from Wednesday's close. Its stock last touched that level in October but has not traded solidly below there since March 2017.


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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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