MORTGAGESRate fears spur fallMortgage sales fell 3.7 per cent in July on fears of an interest-rate rise and the carbon tax, the Australian Finance Group Mortgage Index showed. It found the greatest fall was in Victoria, with a 7.4 per cent drop, with losses of 5.9 per cent in NSW.UTILITIESDuet seeks $277mDuet Group says it expects to pay a distribution of 16? a security in 2011-12 as it suspends its distribution- reinvestment plan while seeking to raise $277 million in new capital. Duet, which owns energy utility assets, will offer new shares at a ratio of 1 for 5 at $1.52.EXPLORERSParker project soldThe junior iron-ore explorer Cazaly Resources is to sell its Parker Range project in Western Australia to a large south-east Asian investment group for $100 million plus royalties, which are expected to exceed $80 million.BIOTECHSAlchemia soarsShares in Alchemia soared as high as 11.5 per cent after the company launched the generic blood-thinning drug Fondaparinux in the US after 11 years of development.RARE EARTHSMount Weld opensA mine that will tap into the richest known deposit of rare earths in the world has been officially opened in the Goldfields region of Western Australia. The Mount Weld mine, south of Laverton, is a $100 million project developed by Lynas Corporation.TRUSTSWestfield to pay 8.1?Westfield Retail Trust says it will pay a half-year distribution of 8.1? a stapled security for the six months ended June 30. The payout represents 49 per cent of the forecast distribution of 16.5? for the year to December 31.SERVICESSpotless says 'no'Spotless Group has confirmed reports it will retain its garment-hanger business, Braiform, following unsolicited approaches from potential buyers. Spotless said it had initiated a process to explore the possible sale of the business but had decided against a sale.