* Yellen sees “gradual” adjustments to monetary policy
* Banks stocks rise
* Disney falls as ESPN profit drops
* Futures up: Dow 97 pts, S&P 14.5 pts, Nasdaq 53.5 pts (Adds details, comment, updates prices)
By Abhiram Nandakumar
Feb 10 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open higher on Wednesday, but U.S. stock futures eased some of their gains after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said conditions in the United States would allow the Fed to pursue “gradual” adjustments to monetary policy.
However, tightening financial conditions driven by falling stock prices, uncertainty over China and a global reassessment of credit risk could throw the U.S. economy off track from an otherwise solid course, Yellen said in a prepared testimony to Congress.
Uncertainty over interest rates had hit bank stocks in recent days. Shares of Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan rose about 1.8 percent premarket. Citigroup, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley rose above 2 percent.
Yellen is scheduled for an appearance before the House Committee on Financial Services at 10:00 a.m. ET (1500 GMT).
The Fed raised rates in December. But, since then, fears of a China-led global economic slowdown, along with oil’s steep slide, have dampened the market’s expectations for a hike in coming months.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to divorce ourselves from the themes that were prevalent last year,” said Eric Wiegand, senior portfolio manager at the Private Client Reserve at U.S. Bank in New York
Wiegand said the Fed and monetary policy remain at the forefront of investors’ concern.
At 8:50 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 97 points, or 0.61 percent, with 63,751 contracts changing hands.
S&P 500 e-minis were up 14.5 points, or 0.78 percent, with 418,987 contracts traded. Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 53.5 points, or 1.36 percent, on volume of 70,773 contracts.
Wall Street closed lower for the third session in a row on Tuesday, after a sharp fall in crude battered the energy sector.
U.S. corporate reports are not offering much relief, with a few marquee names giving grim forecasts. Investors have been quick to punish the stocks of any company giving negative news.
Shares of Walt Disney were down 2.8 percent at $89.70 premarket after a fall in profit at its ESPN sports network overshadowed the success of “Star Wars”.
Fitbit was up 5.9 percent at $15.15 after Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff reported a stake in the maker of wearable fitness devices. The company’s share lockup period expires Wednesday.
Tesla, Cisco and Twitter are scheduled to report after the close. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar and Aastha Agnihotri in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D‘Souza)