US STOCKS-Tech, retail gains lift Wall St; volume remains weak

 * Trading volume remains low near quarter close
 * Home Depot rallies on stock-buyback program
 * Consumer confidence, home prices fall
 * Dow up 0.6 pct, S&P up 0.5 pct, Nasdaq up 0.7 pct
 * For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]
 (Updates to afternoon)
 By Chuck Mikolajczak
 NEW YORK, March 29 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks advanced on
Tuesday, boosted by strength in retail and tech stocks, but
volume remained light as investors awaited a clearer picture
of corporate earnings and the labor market.
 The S&P 500 index has risen 4.7 percent in the first
quarter. The benchmark index was on track for its seventh
positive quarter in the last eight.
 Technology and retail stocks were among the better-
performing sectors on Tuesday, as investors found value in
stocks that fell in the pullback following the earthquake. The
S&P Information Technology index (.GSPT: Quote, Profile, Research) had lost as much as 4
percent in the aftermath of the disaster in Japan, while  the
S&P Retail index (.RLX: Quote, Profile, Research) dropped as much as 2.1 percent.
 The S&P Information Technology Index was up 0.3 percent on
Tuesday and the S&P Retail Index was up 1.1 percent.
 Volume remained tepid ahead of some key 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.
 Investors may also have been reluctant to make big bets in
equities as companies begin to announce earnings guidance.
 "We've got a big economic week. You are also in
pre-announcement season here. Interestingly, we haven't seen
many so far, but it's a little early," said Tim Ghriskey,
chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in
Bedford Hills, New York.
 "It is probably why the volume isn't very high."
 The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: Quote, Profile, Research) gained 74.97
points, or 0.61 percent, to 12,272.85. The Standard & Poor's
500 Index (.SPX: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 6.74 points, or 0.51 percent, to
1,316.93. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: Quote, Profile, Research) climbed 20.04
points, or 0.74 percent, to 2,750.72.
 Home Depot Inc (HD.N: Quote, Profile, Research), up 2.7 percent at $37.64, was among
the Dow's best performers after the home improvement retailer
said it would buy back $1 billion of outstanding shares
through an accelerated program.  For details, see
[ID:nN28219743]
 Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 2.7 percent to $173.95 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 0.9 percent to $17.29 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]
 On the downside, Apollo Group (APOL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) fell 4.9 percent to
$40.28 after the education company said new enrollment fell 45
percent in second quarter. [ID:nL3E7ET1V1]
 Lennar Corp (LEN.N: Quote, Profile, Research), the third-largest U.S. homebuilder,
fell 3.7 percent to $19.03 after swinging to a first-quarter
profit, but reporting a drop in revenue. [ID:nN29249040]
 (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Jan Paschal)








US STOCKS-Tech, retail gains lift Wall St; volume remains weak