US STOCKS-Futures drop as investors fret over rate hike timing
* Futures down: Dow 109 pts, S&P 12.5 pts, Nasdaq 35 pts
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Sept 12 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were lower for the third straight day on Monday as oil prices fell and on increasing speculation about a possible U.S. interest rate hike as early as next week.
* Even as the Federal Reserve has given little indication on the timing of the next rate hike, investors have taken cues from a number of top central bank officials hinting at a possible raise at the Fed's next policy-setting meeting on Sept. 20-21.
* Fed Governor and permanent voting member Lael Brainard's speech at 1:15 p.m. ET (1715) will be scrutinized to see if she maintains her dovish stance on rates or takes a more aggressive posture. Her speech was announced on Friday.
* Other Fed members including Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari and his Atlanta counterpart Dennis Lockhart are scheduled to speak at separate events. Both are non-voting members. Lockhart has said he expects two rates this year.
* Low expectations for an interest rate hike this year had partly helped the benchmark S&P 500 index clock a series of record highs since July.
* However, on Friday, the three major U.S. stock indexes saw their worst decline since the Brexit vote in June, as growing evidence of an imminent rate hike spooked investors away from riskier parts of the markets.
* Such prospect pushed the dollar index slightly higher on Monday, marking the fourth straight day of gains, while oil prices tumbled nearly 2 percent also amid worries of oversupply. Continuación...