US stocks drop on final day of first quarter

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks tumbled Tuesday, snapping a two-day winning streak to close the first quarter on a sour note as volatility in equity markets stays high.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 17,779.99, down 196.32 points (1.09 per cent).

The broad-based S&P 500 fell 18.16 (0.87 per cent) to 2,068.08, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 46.56 (0.94 per cent) to 4,900.88.

US stocks have been choppy as investors ponder US monetary policy, Greece's prospects for staying in the euro zone and the big drop in oil prices.

"We're seeing an increase in volatility. Investors have a lot of questions," said Alan Skrainka, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth Management.

Data Tuesday showed a gain in consumer confidence in March and a modest year-on-year rise in US home prices in January.