Last year was a stellar one for most stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average -- but not for industrial giant General Electric (GE) . The stock shed more than 42% of its market value as the rest of the big index surged, making it a conspicuous underperformer that hasn't done much better since the calendar flipped to 2018.

GE is down another 16.42% year-to-date, a pace that actually puts shares on track for worse performance than last year if it were to keep up.

Across a full 12 months, GE's 2018 rout puts it on track for a 61% decline in market value, even with dividends factored in.

And, unfortunately for GE bulls, these clouds don't have much in the way of a silver lining.

To figure out GE's likely price action in the near term, we're turning to the chart for a technical look at what's happening in shares.

At a glance, you don't need to be an expert technical trader to figure out GE's prevailing price trend right now -- shares have been moving down and to the right for quite a while.

Indeed, GE's bearish price action has been incredibly technically obedient for more than a year now. That fact adds some extra credence to paying attention to the price action now.

The fact that GE has been stuck in a parabolic downtrend is troubling for longs - GE's selloff continues to accelerate in 2018. Likewise, it means that shares can break through the top of their downtrend (at the 50-day moving average, approximately) and still be pointing lower.

Relative strength, the side indicator down at the bottom of GE's chart, adds some extra red flags to the bearish price action in GE. The fact that relative strength has been in a downtrend of its own is a signal that shares continue to systematically underperform the rest of the broad market, even now.

The $17.50 breakdown that happened mid-January was a key signal that sellers remain very much in control of GE's price action as we head into the spring. Likewise, it makes sense to steer clear until GE can catch a bid back up above that $17.50 price level. More downside is the high-probability trade in GE for the short term.

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

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