NYSE Euronext said on Friday it is selling a significant equity interest in its derivatives exchange NYSE Liffe U.S., as it posted a 28-percent drop in third-quarter earnings.

The bourse will remain the biggest shareholder of the U.S. part of NYSE Liffe, it said.

NYSE Euronext's third-quarter net income, at $125 million, outperformed market expectations, despite lower overall trading volumes, thanks to NYSE Liffe Clearing revenues and a 10 percent drop in fixed operating expenses.

Underlying fixed operating expenses, excluding the impact of mergers and acquisitions, foreign exchange fluctuations and investments in new businesses, were down $121 million.

A Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S consensus estimate was for a profit of $119.8 million. The year-ago number was $174 million.

Chief Executive Officer Duncan Niederauer said the bourse continued to see stabilization in its core businesses.

NYSE Euronext said it was selling the stake in NYSE Liffe U.S. to Goldman Sachs , Morgan Stanley , UBS , Citadel Securities and GETCO, to accelerate the growth of its U.S. futures exchange.

(Reporting by Daisy Ku; Editing by Rupert Winchester)