We need to put Santa on a 'milk carton' for now — Art Cashin on a possible holiday stock rally

Key Points
  • The traditional end-of-the-year stock market rally could come a little later this year, says the veteran trader.
  • "For the short run, we have to put Santa Claus' picture on a milk carton," Cashin says.
So what happens if the Dow drops under 25,000?

The traditional end-of-the-year stock rally could come a little later as traders watch to see if market levels can hold up, veteran trader Art Cashin told CNBC Wednesday.

"For the short run, we have to put Santa Claus' picture on a milk carton," said the UBS director of floor operations at the New York Stock Exchange. "But maybe a week or two after Thanksgiving, we can go looking for him again."

In a "Power Lunch" interview, Cashin said that traders were hoping the Dow Jones Industrial Average could stay above 25,000 on the day.

The Dow took a wild ride on Wednesday, trading as much as 214 points higher and then as low as about 350 points. It briefly broke under 25,000 about two hours before the close.

"There was almost an audible gasp down here on the floor, and everybody wanted to see if that was opening a trapdoor" to a major sell-off, Cashin said.

But that "trapdoor" did not materialize, and the Dow bounced off those lows. "It's deemed to have been a successful test of support around those areas," Cashin said.

The Dow finished the day down 205 points at 25,080.

Cashin attributed Wednesday's slide to Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters' declaration about fortifying banking regulations when she, likely, becomes chair of the powerful House Financial Services Committee in January.

Anticipation of a Brexit deal also added pressure, he said.

"So, for the balance of the week, I would expect you might see a retest," Cashin said. "A lot will depend if you can keep oil under control here."