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This range for the S&P 500 'makes me very nervous,' technician says

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Watch out for this key level on the S&P 500

The has almost completely recovered from the December slump.

The benchmark index has rebounded 17 percent from its lows late last year and sits just over 50 points from its Dec. 3 high.

Its next move higher is going to be harder to come by, said Todd Gordon, founder of TradingAnalysis.com.

"This area right here makes me very nervous because there's actually four significant technical levels here," Gordon said Thursday on CNBC's "Trading Nation. " "The 200-day moving average right here — we have tried it once, twice, three, coming back on a fourth time."

The S&P 500 broke above and below that long-term trend line throughout the fourth quarter, only resurfacing above it earlier this month. Its failed attempts to firmly go above that line has formed a quadruple top, Gordon said.

"This is going to be a deadly battleground," said Gordon. "I want to short it but I want to be very diligent and get a good price, stop out above 2,900, but again, don't think is going to be an easy trade. I think we sell off but it's going to be very volatile for a period while we decide what to do here."

Erin Gibbs, portfolio manager at S&P Global, said markets should head higher, but it will be difficult to harness the momentum of years past.

"We're right at a three-year average when it comes to valuations but we're in this environment of much lower growth, slightly higher interest rates and so we're cautiously optimistic," Gibbs said Thursday on "Trading Nation." "We're really not looking for much more than a 5 percent increase in the near term."

A 5 percent rise by the end of the year would put the S&P 500 at 2,883, above its December top. It would remain below its September record high.

"Right now we're at 16.5 times forward earnings which has been the major support over the past few years but again that was a completely different environment," Gibbs said. "If we can break above 16.5, we see some real positive sentiment going forward, some better growth than, yeah, we would be much more optimistic."

Gibbs anticipates 4.6 percent blended earnings growth for the S&P 500 this year, well below the 22 percent pace in 2018.