US STOCKS-Energy lifts Wall St but caution keeps volume low

 * Trading volume remains low near quarter close
 * Home Depot rallies on stock-buyback program
 * Consumer confidence, home prices fall
 * Dow up 0.7 pct, S&P up 0.7 pct, Nasdaq up 1 pct
 * For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]
 (Updates to close, changes byline)
 By Rodrigo Campos
 NEW YORK, March 29 (Reuters) - Strength in energy lifted
U.S. stocks on Tuesday as investors concentrated on adding to
winning positions as the quarter winds down, but uncertainty
kept trading volume light.
 About 6.2 billion shares traded in composite volume on the
New York Stock Exchange, NYSE Amex and Nasdaq, the
second-weakest of 2011 and far below last year's estimated
daily average of 8.47 billion.
 Conviction has been weak as investors assess the effect of
Japan's earthquake and turmoil in the Middle East on corporate
results.
 "I don't think a lot of people know what to do. They hear
about how bullish it is to reconstruct Japan but until the
disaster is quantified, they are not going to do anything,"
said Shawn Hackett, president of Hackett Advisors in Boynton
Beach, Florida.
 "When the market doesn't know what to do, it tends to go
up on low volume and down on higher volume because when people
get nervous, they sell."
 Oil services stocks rose for a fifth session as investors
continued to add to a sector sitting at its highest since
August 2008. The PHLX oil services sector index (.OSX: Quote, Profile, Research) rose
1.9 percent.
 "Until the oil market cracks, momentum traders are buying
the oil services stocks because that's what's working,"
Hackett said. "Until crude breaks the $100 level back down,
you're going to continue to see a strong bid on oil service
stocks."
 All 10 of the S&P 500's major sectors rose, with energy
(.GSPE: Quote, Profile, Research) up 1 percent.
 Oil rig contractor Rowan Cos Inc (RDC.N: Quote, Profile, Research) is bidding on 11
drilling opportunities in Saudi Arabia, its chief executive
told Reuters, and its shares jumped 5.2 percent to $43.46. For
details see [ID:nN28202744].
 Oil prices have traded near multi-month highs recently,
underpinned by weeks of unrest in Libya and in oil-exporting
countries in the Middle East. U.S. crude (CLc1: Quote, Profile, Research) settled up 0.8
percent near $105 per barrel.
 Volume was also weakened ahead of data on the labor front,
including the ADP private-sector employment report on
Wednesday and the U.S. government's key non-farm payrolls
report on Friday.
 The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: Quote, Profile, Research) gained 81.13
points, or 0.67 percent, to 12,279.01. The Standard & Poor's
500 (.SPX: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 9.25 points, or 0.71 percent, to 1,319.44. The
Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC: Quote, Profile, Research) added 26.21 points, or 0.96 percent,
to 2,756.89.
 The S&P 500 index has risen 4.9 percent in the first three
months of the year, which would be its seventh positive
quarter in the last eight.
 Home Depot Inc (HD.N: Quote, Profile, Research), up 2.9 percent at $37.70, was the
Dow's best performer after the home improvement retailer said
it would buy back $1 billion of outstanding shares through an
accelerated program. [ID:nN28219743].
 Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 3.1 percent to $174.62 after
it introduced a service offering remote access to music, ahead
of rivals Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) and Google Inc (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research).
[ID:nL3E7ET0TS]
 Cisco Systems (CSCO.O: Quote, Profile, Research) gained 1.8 percent to $17.44 after
it said it plans to buy software company newScale Inc for an
undisclosed amount to boost its cloud computing services.
[ID:nL3E7ET0TS] [ID:nN29243506].
 Investors shrugged off economic data that showed U.S.
consumer confidence fell in March as households worried about
inflation, while home prices dropped for the seventh straight
month in January. [ID:nN29268691].
 Lennar Corp (LEN.N: Quote, Profile, Research), the third-largest U.S. homebuilder,
fell 3.4 percent to $19.07 after reporting a drop in revenue.
[ID:nN29249040]
 Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on both the
NYSE and Nasdaq by a ratio of more than 2 to 1.
 (Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Jan Paschal)




US STOCKS-Energy lifts Wall St but caution keeps volume low