* ASX 200 flat, QBE slumps on higher claims
* 102 shares are trading higher, 78 lower, and 20 unchanged (Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
By Thuy Ong and Gyles Beckford
SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, July 29 (Reuters) - Australian shares were flat on Tuesday after an uninspired performance on Wall Street overnight, allowing investors to take a breather after the market rallied to six-year highs last week, though a slump in QBE Insurance tugged at the market.
QBE Insurance Group Ltd slumped 11.5 percent to 7-month lows of A$10.53 after the company warned higher claims in Latin America will hit its insurance profit margin and costs. Among other insurers, Suncorp Group Ltd added 0.3 percent.
U.S. stocks ended nearly flat overnight as the latest deal news offset losses following discouraging data on the housing market and some signs of weakness in the services sector.
"There's little real leads from overseas, there's a lot of data coming out from the U.S. so investors are sitting on the sidelines waiting," said Martin Lakos, division director at Macquarie Bank, adding that market participants were eyeing the Federal Open Market Committee meeting and U.S. non-farm payrolls due later in the week.
The S&P/ASX 200 index ticked 1.9 points higher to 5,579.8 by 0147 GMT. The benchmark slipped 0.1 percent on Monday.
Elsewhere, the Housing Industry Association said its survey of large builders showed sales of private sector new homes rose 1.2 percent in June from May. Housing stocks were mixed, GPT Group added 0.3 percent, while Leighton Holdings was down 0.8 percent.
Singapore's City Developments Ltd and Australia's Stockland Group Ltd are considering bidding for Leighton's A$500 million residential and commercial property portfolio, the Australian Financial Review reported on Tuesday.
The top 20 stocks on the ASX 200 buoyed the market with the leading bank by market capitalisation, Commonwealth Bank of Australia rising 0.4 percent, while National Australia Bank, the country's top bank by assets, was up 0.4 percent.
Australia's top telecommunications provider Telstra Corporation Ltd added 0.2 percent, while consumer retail staple Woolworths Ltd climbed 1 percent.
ALS Ltd lost 4.4 percent to a 2-month low of A$7.68 after saying it expects underlying net profit after tax for the half year ending 30 September to be approximately A$74 million, disappointing investors.
New Zealand stocks were a touch firmer with solid showings from some mid-and-small cap stocks offsetting a hint of softness among some of the leaders.
The benchmark NZX-50 index was up 3.4 points or 0.1 percent to 5,190.
Among the bigger moves were Abano Healthcare Ltd up 4.9 percent to NZ$6.45 after reporting stronger than expected profit figures, and clothing retailer Kathmandu up 3.5 percent to NZ$3.55.
The gains offset a 2.7 percent fall for the second-biggest stock Telecom Corp, which eased to NZ$2.86 after hitting a six-year high last week. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Eric Meijer)