Markets are getting gut-punched again Thursday, the big indices all shedding more than 1% of their market value as of this writing.

That puts the big S&P 500 down more than 7% year-to-date, heightening the likelihood that 2018 ends up the worst year for stocks since the Great Recession. Likewise, after leading its peers higher for the last couple of years, the Nasdaq is now on the verge of officially becoming a bear market, off 20% from its late-summer highs.

And amid all of that, one of the most woeful performers in 2018, General Electric Co. (GE) , is starting to look positive again...

That feels odd to say right now. The stock market is tumbling, and GE has been utterly toxic to investors' portfolios this year, backsliding more than 56% since the calendar flipped to January.

But for all of its faults, GE has actually been an extremely technically obedient trade for the last year and change. In fact, GE started waving a red flag back at the beginning of 2017 when shares were trading above $31. And it consistently told the same story over the timeframe that followed.

Now 75% lower from their first technical sell signal, though, shares of GE are finally starting to look "bottomy".

To figure out how to trade it from here, we're turning to the chart for a technical look:

After accelerating its downtrend in October, GE is forming what looks like the first two-thirds of an inverse head-and-shoulders pattern, a bullish reversal pattern that signals exhaustion among sellers. After the freefall this stock has seen over the last couple of years, it's understandable that sellers are feeling fatigued.

The setup triggers a breakout buy signal on a material push through the $8 resistance level that's acted like a price ceiling for shares since mid-November.

This is a relatively short-term trading setup at this point, and that comes with similarly short-term trading implications if and when a breakout does happen. In other words, a breakout above $8 makes upside a high-probability trade, but it may not last long.

Relative strength is showing some early signs of outperformance, as the side-indicator in GE makes higher lows. Again, it's too early to call this a trend change, but it's established enough by now to at least start to pay attention to it.

If you decide to pull the trigger on GE above $8, risk management remains crucial. This stock has proven time and again that it's prone to bouts of volatility - don't own it unless you can stomach a surprise.

Keep a close eye on the $8 level in GE. It could be the first buy signal this stock has seen in a long time.

Save 66% with our '12 Days of Holiday Deals' Sale. Join Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS club for investors and get our best deal of the year. Click here for details or to sign up. 

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

More from Investing

KeyCorp Expected to Earn 47 Cents a Share

KeyCorp Expected to Earn 47 Cents a Share

Real Money Report Card: Big Week for Bank Earnings

Real Money Report Card: Big Week for Bank Earnings

CSX Tops Estimates, Sets New $5 Billion Buyback

CSX Tops Estimates, Sets New $5 Billion Buyback

8 Takeaways for Apple, Google and Others from Recent Mobile App Stats

8 Takeaways for Apple, Google and Others from Recent Mobile App Stats

It Would Be Healthy for This Market to Have Some Downside Action Now

It Would Be Healthy for This Market to Have Some Downside Action Now