Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on January 03, 2019 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The turbulence in the U.S. stock markets is far from over and 2019 could be another year of big volatile moves, analysts told International Business Times.

Rob Zukowski, technical analyst at Continuum Economics, said the immediate key level for the S&P 500 (^GSPC) lies at the 200-day moving average currently pegged at 2,350, around the recent low of 2,346 that the index touched. “If you take out that low, the S&P 500 can see a drop of another 350 points.”

Zukowski said the 200-day moving average is a critical area for the S&P 500 in 2019, pointing out that the index has consistently traded above its 200-day moving average since 2011.

It was the first time ever the S&P 500 ended a year with a loss after having tread positive territory during the first three quarters. The benchmark index rose 9 percent at the end of the first three quarters of 2018 before the selloff began in October.

The S&P 500’s performance during December, clocking a loss of 7.8 percent, was the weakest since the Great Depression when it lost 14.5 percent in December 1931. For 2018, the S&P 500 was down 7.01 percent. It closed at 2,447.89 Thursday.

Research house Baird attributed the surge in 2018 volatility to the cyclical weakness in stock markets and said it is unlikely to wither away anytime soon. “This volatility has emerged as the cyclical rally off of the early-2016 lows was running out of steam and stocks have moved into what increasingly looks like a cyclical bear market,” Baird said in a note.

Zukowski said the base case scenario for the index is to trend lower, adding the current market conditions are more favorable for short-term traders. “If you like to play the volatility I think you could have a good year playing the swings in the market. So it's just going to be another year of big volatile moves,” he said.

Zukowski does not expect the market to scale new highs this year although a bear market bounce back may take the S&P 500 to the 2,600 - 2,700 range. He said: “2,600 is the key resistance for the index and it needs to power through it on a sustained basis to retest the old highs.”

He said market participants have turned even more cautious after Apple (AAPL) cut its revenue forecast and China -- reeling from the trade war -- seems to be impacting companies as well. “China’s economy is not looking good and any economic data coming out of China is seeing a big reaction from the S&P 500,” Zukowski added.

Baird expects the market to rally over the second half of the year, with the emergence of a new cyclical bull market. However, Baird cautioned that the cyclical bear market could continue to linger if deteriorating conditions overseas and Federal Reserve tightening at home produce a greater-than-expected downshift in the U.S. economy.

“Under this scenario, a repeat of 2018 in terms of widespread volatility and historically poor performance across asset classes could be seen in 2019,” Baird said in its note.