* Futures down: Dow 49 pts, S&P 6.75 pts, Nasdaq 8.75 pts

March 17 (Reuters) – S&P Futures were down on Tuesday after rallying on Monday ahead of a Federal Reserve meeting that investors are looking to for a guage on timing for an interest rate hike.

* The Federal Open Market Committee is due to start a two-day meeting on Tuesday and is expected to put out its statement and projections on Wednesday afternoon.

* Most economists expect the Fed to take out a pledge to be “patient” about raising interest rates from its statement giving it flexibility on when to start hikes.

* The benchmark S&P 500 index on Monday saw its biggest percentage gain since Feb. 3. Last week the Dow and S&P registered their third week of losses.

* U.S. housing starts data for February is due to be released at 0830 a.m. ET (1230 GMT)

* Solid gains for Asian markets overnight gave way to up-and-down trading in Europe on Tuesday . The euro EUR= notched its first two-day run of gains in three weeks. The dollar was down 0.16 percent against a basket of currencies.

* Brent crude fell below $ 54 a barrel in choppy trade as concerns over a growing supply glut weighed on the market. U.S. crude was at $ 43.41 a barrel, down 47 cents and slightly above 6-year lows of $ 42.85 marked on Monday

* Shares in American Airlines were up 3.5 percent at $ 52 in early trade after news that it would join the S&P 500.

Futures snapshot at 7:00:

* S&P 500 e-minis were down 6.75 points, or 0.33 percent, with 65,054 contracts changing hands.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 8.75 points, or 0.2 percent, in volume of 3,826 contracts.

* Dow e-minis were down 49 points, or 0.27 percent, with 2,510 contracts changing hands.

(Reporting By Sinead Carew Editing by W Simon)