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'Serious profit-taking' unless S&P holds: Cashin

Cashin: Draghi's attempt to mollify markets

The S&P 500 index needs to stay above the 1,950 level to avoid further declines, veteran trader Art Cashin told CNBC on Thursday.

U.S. stocks dropped on Thursday, reclaiming a portion of prior-day gains, as investors bypassed U.S. corporate earnings and economic reports to focus on global concerns.

The Dow Jones industrial average suffered a triple-digit decline in mid-morning trade on Thursday. The S&P and Nasdaq were in the red, too.

Read More Triple-digit drop for Dow; investor anxiety reigns

Cashin, who has more than 30 years of experience on Wall Street, said the selling came as a bit of a surprise.

"By Wall Street folklore, today, the Thursday before an options expiration week, has a lot of volatility and I figured this morning we wouldn't see as much," he said on "Squawk on the Street. " "But they have come in here, and they're giving back some of yesterday's gains. It would be best if the S&P stays above 1,950. They get below thatthen it could get into some serious profit-taking. "

—CNBC's Kate Gibson contributed to this report.