US STOCKS-Wall St gains on tech strength, Home Depot leads Dow

 * 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 0.2 pct, S&P up 0.02 pct, Nasdaq up 0.4 pct
 * For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]
 (Updates to mid-morning with techs' lifting market)
 By Ryan Vlastelica
 NEW YORK, March 29 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday
on strength in large-cap tech shares, but 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. 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."
 Home Depot Inc (HD.N: Quote, Profile, Research) said late on Monday it would buy
back $1 billion of outstanding shares through an accelerated
program. Its stock rose 2.8 percent to $37.67 and was the
Dow's top percentage gainer. For details, see [ID:nN28219743]
 The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: Quote, Profile, Research) was up 26.04
points, or 0.21 percent, at 12,223.92. The Standard & Poor's
500 Index (.SPX: Quote, Profile, Research) was up 0.23 of a point, or 0.02 percent, at
1,310.42. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: Quote, Profile, Research) was up 10.08
points, or 0.37 percent, at 2,740.73.
 The Nasdaq was helped by strength in large-cap tech
shares. Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 2.2 percent to $173.12
after it introduced a service offering remote access to
music.
 Cisco Systems (CSCO.O: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 1.6 percent to $17.40 after it
said it plans to buy newScale Inc for an undisclosed amount to
boost its cloud computing services. [ID:nL3E7ET0TS]
[ID:nN29243506]
 On the downside, Apollo Group (APOL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) fell 7.2 percent to
$39.30 after the education company said new enrollment fell 45
percent in second quarter. [ID:nL3E7ET1V1]
 Lennar Corp (LEN.N: Quote, Profile, Research) fell 2 percent to $19.36 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. Wal-Mart, a Dow component,
slipped 0.1 percent to $52.15. [ID:nN28284791]
 On the economic front, 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]
 After the market opened, data showed U.S. consumer
confidence fell in March as expectations about jobs and income
growth worsened, according to the Conference Board, a private
research group. [ID:N29279392]
 (Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Jan Paschal)


US STOCKS-Wall St gains on tech strength, Home Depot leads Dow