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Cashin: 2015 was like commuting via roller coaster

Imagine commuting to work every day but instead of your usual set of wheels, you're taking a much bumpier ride.

That's how UBS director of NYSE floor operations, Art Cashin, describes how 2015 played out for the market.

"As I said, this year was like commuting by roller coaster. Lots of chills and spills, but you ended up pretty much where you started," he told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" Tuesday.

It was this return to "square one" that frustrated a lot of people this year, Cashin said, adding that the year before a presidential election generally has a history of being up.

However, he said things might be looking more positive looking ahead to the new year.

"Back-to-back down years are rare things," he said. "So you might have that working for you."

Looking back at 2015, Cashin said the impact of the China slowdown on the economy was a key factor in the Fed's decision not to raise rates back in September, making it a strong contender for one of the top business stories of the year. However, he said it wouldn't be his first pick. Cashin said the end of zero rates could be on the list of this year's top business news.

He added, "I might make a slight bet that I think you might see zero again before you see 1 percent."

As far as the annual Santa Claus rally, Cashin said people who are asking where St. Nick is need to hold their horses. He said that, historically, the rally begins Christmas Eve through the last five trading days of the year and into the first two of the next year.

"You know, you don't have to put his face on a milk carton yet, his timing is usually late," said Cashin. "We had an early rally attempt that faded, and this one is having difficulty.

While some believe there is a chance the Dow Jones industrial average could tack on an extra 3 percent during this rally, Cashin said that a Christmas miracle is far-fetched.

"You may get a rally about half that large," he said. "Three percent might be a bit of a stretch."