Business

Stocks tanked on coronavirus fears. But the companies that make your cleaning products got a boost

Posted January 27, 2020 12:49 p.m. EST
Updated January 27, 2020 4:38 p.m. EST

Stocks tanked on coronavirus fears. But the companies that make your cleaning products got a boost

— Stocks fell to their lowest levels in months Monday on the spread of coronavirus. But the companies that make your cleaning products are rallying.

Shares of Clorox, Procter & Gamble, Colgate Palmolive and Kimberly-Clark were all up Monday. An outbreak can be good for disinfectant sales: In 2009, when consumers were worried about the spread of swine flu, hand sanitizer sales spiked 70% over a six-month stretch, according to Nielsen.

But the stocks weren't necessarily rising because investors expect them to sell a ton of cleaning supplies. These companies are defensive stocks, and investors often head to them during volatile periods.

"It's a rotational, get defensive sort of day," said Kevin Grundy, who covers the consumer products sector at Jefferies. More than 450 S&P 500 stocks were down Monday.

A fifth case of coronavirus has been confirmed in the United States. All patients had traveled to the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak originated, prior to falling ill.

Stocks sold off last week amid fears of a global pandemic. The outbreak, which so far has infected thousands people and killed 80, has investors concerned about the Chinese economy.

As the second-largest economy in the world, any drop off in China's growth could hurt the global economy, which has already slowed over the past year.

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