'We are in a sick market,' warns veteran trader Art Cashin

  • Forget a bull or bear market — "We're in a sick market," says UBS' Art Cashin.
  • Cashin likens it to a person who is cautious after a cardiac event. "Markets get like that after they get banged around."
  • He would be careful if the S&P gets back down around the 2,350 area.

The stock market isn't feeling well these days, veteran trader Art Cashin told CNBC on Thursday.

Asked whether this is a bull market or bear market, the UBS director of floor operations at the New York Stock replied, "We're in a sick market."

"It has been very healthy for the first two-thirds, if you would, or three-quarters of last year and now it's beginning to develop some signs of weakness," he said on "Power Lunch."

Cashin likened it to a person who had a cardiac event. He or she is careful in the days that follow and need to figure out how far he or she can walk.

"Markets get like that after they get banged around. They're cautious," he said.

Volatility has rocked the market of late, with sell-offs in late 2018 and a wild ride that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average post its worst December performance since 1931. The blue-chip index also soared 1,000 points on Dec. 26, its biggest ever single-day point gain. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 ultimately ended the year down 5.6 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively. It was their biggest annual losses since 2008.

The rockiness continued into the new year. On Thursday, U.S. equities dropped sharply after Apple lowered its fiscal first-quarter revenue guidance and a weaker-than-expected reading on the U.S. manufacturing sector.

Cashin said he hasn't seen selling get to the point of capitulation, which is when investors give up trying to recapture what they lost in a sell-off.

"They get close but they don't quite get there," he said. "I'd like to see it kind of purge a little bit and then I would be far more relaxed to see them go up. But now we're fighting each crisis every day."

He would be careful if the S&P gets back down around the 2,350 area.

"Continued erosion, selling off and not bouncing is going to make the market feel worse," Cashin said.

— CNBC's Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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