US STOCKS-Wall St flat on global caution before quarter-end

 * Trading volume low as positive quarter nears end
 * Home Depot rallies on stock buyback program
 * Case-Shiller shows home prices fell for seventh month
 * Dow up 0.1 pct, S&P down 0.1 pct, Nasdaq up 0.2 pct
 * For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]
 (Updates to early morning)
 By Ryan Vlastelica
 NEW YORK, March 29 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little
changed in choppy trading on Tuesday as continuing global
crises kept investors cautious before the quarter's end.
 The S&P 500 index has risen 4.2 percent in the first
quarter as of Monday. Still, investors were reluctant to risk
gains with Japan's nuclear power problems and the civil unrest
in the Middle East and North Africa unresolved. Monday's
trading volume was the lowest of the year.
 "The quarter is ending with a lot of uncertainties out
there, resulting in messy intraday moves at the same time that
nothing is really happening," said Michael Shaoul, chairman of
the New York-based Marketfield Asset Management, which oversees
$973 million.
 "There's nothing obvious about what investors need to do in
this environment, and that's why you're seeing such low
volume," he said. "No one has any reason to recommit capital."
 After the market opened data showed U.S. consumer
confidence fell in March as expectations about jobs and income
growth worsened, according to a private sector group. For
details, see [ID:N29279392]
 Home Depot Inc (HD.N: Quote, Profile, Research) late on Monday said it would buy back
$1 billion of outstanding shares through an accelerated
program. Shares rose 2.2 percent to $37.47 and were the top
percentage gainers on the Dow. [ID:nN28219743]
 U.S. single-family home prices fell for the seventh
straight month in January, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller
composite index of 20 metropolitan areas. However, the drop was
not as much as expected. [ID:nDZE7DS003]
 The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: Quote, Profile, Research) was up 5.56 points,
or 0.05 percent, at 12,203.44. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
(.SPX: Quote, Profile, Research) was down 0.86 point, or 0.07 percent, at 1,309.33. The
Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: Quote, Profile, Research) was up 6.04 points, or 0.22
percent, at 2,736.72.
 Apollo Group (APOL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) fell 6.5 percent to $39.59 after the
education company said new enrollment fell 45 percent in second
quarter. [ID:nL3E7ET1V1]
 Lennar Corp (LEN.N: Quote, Profile, Research) fell 1.3 percent to $19.49 after
swinging to a first-quarter profit but reporting a drop in
revenue. [ID:nN29249040]
 Wal-Mart Stores (WMT.N: Quote, Profile, Research) will urge the U.S. Supreme Court on
Tuesday to reject a case brought on behalf of female employees
who allege the retailer gave women less pay and fewer
promotions in the largest, class-action sex-discrimination
lawsuit ever. Shares of the Dow component were 0.2 percent
higher. [ID:nN28284791]
 (Editing by Kenneth Barry)


US STOCKS-Wall St flat on global caution before quarter-end