- Shares in Japan’s Kawamoto Corp. have quadrupled in January.
- The company sells medical masks and other healthcare equipment.
- Panic from the coronavirus pandemic has sent healthcare stocks soaring.
China’s deadly coronavirus has hit global stock markets hard. On Monday the U.S. Dow Jones suffered its worst sell-off since October while trading in China was halted completely.
But a handful of healthcare stocks around the world are soaring. Japan’s Kawamoto Corp., which produces masks and other medical products, has quadrupled since the start of the year.
Kawamoto isn’t the only Asian healthcare company getting a boost. Shares in numerous Asian mask producers shot up on Tuesday.
“Shares of South Korean mask producer Monalisa surged 29%, while South Korean pharmaceuticals Kukje Pharma and Woojung Bio added 29% and 21% respectively on Tuesday” – The Guardian.
Shortage of masks as coronavirus pandemic spreads
The tally of infected persons reached more than 4,500 on Tuesday as China battles to contain the virus. More than 100 are now dead.
Some Chinese cities, such as Guangdong, now require citizens to wear masks in public or face a fine. But the protective masks have largely sold out across the region.
“Masks are in short supply across China due to severity of epidemic” – Hu Xijin, Global Times
Videos and photos have emerged online of people scrambling to get access to the masks.
Reports suggest that some concerned Chinese citizens have turned to U.S. online stores, like Amazon, to order masks from abroad. One British person in China told the Guardian they had resorted to using scuba diving equipment to ward off the coronavirus.
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“We are using scuba goggles if and when we have to go out again, it’s better than nothing.”
Images shared on social media show people wearing large water bottles over their heads at Chinese subway stations.
Others are using masks as form of currency, betting on games of Mahjong with masks instead of money.
Coronavirus impact on stocks
The fallout from the coronavirus epidemic has rocked global stock markets. The Dow Jones plunged more than 400 points in a brutal selloff on Monday hitting tech stocks, travel companies and commodities hardest.
Investors fear that a pandemic will severely threaten the global economy. Many traders remember the economic slump triggered by the 2003 SARS virus.
Although the World Health Organization has called for calm, data out of Hong Kong suggests the outbreak will continue to spread rapidly, infecting as many as 150,000 people per day if it continues at pace.
This article was edited by Samburaj Das.