U.S. stocks closed down, snapping a three-day winning streak on Tuesday, even as investors adjusted to the insecurity created by events in Japan, the Middle East and North Africa.

Volume was the lowest of 2011, based on preliminary data.

Based on the latest available figures, the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> shed 17.98 points, or 0.15 percent, to end unofficially at 12,018.55. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> dropped 4.61 points, or 0.36 percent, to finish unofficially at 1,293.77. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> lost 8.22 points, or 0.31 percent, to close unofficially at 2,683.87.

(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Jan Paschal)