3 defensive ASX ETFs to buy if a recession comes

These could be top options for investors concerned about a recession.

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With economists predicting that a recession is coming, many investors may be looking for some defensive options to strengthen their portfolios.

Three exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that could help you achieve this goal are listed below. Here's why they could be worth considering in the current uncertain economic environment:

Global Healthcare ETF – Currency Hedged (ASX: DRUG)

The first ASX ETF to look at is the Global Healthcare ETF. This ETF provides investors with easy access to the largest global healthcare companies, hedged into Australian dollars. Given how healthcare companies can typically pass rising costs on to consumers, this provides investors with some level of inflation protection. It is for this reason that Betashares' chief economist, David Bassanese, recently suggested it would be a good option in the current environment. Among its holdings are healthcare giants such as Astra Zeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co, and Pfizer.

Betashares Global Quality Leaders ETF (ASX: QLTY)

Another ASX ETF that could be worth considering according to Bassanesse is the Betashares Global Quality Leaders ETF. It offers investors access to a portfolio of approximately 150 high-quality companies outside Australia. To be included in the fund, a company needs to rank highly with four key metrics. These are return on equity, debt-to-capital, cash flow generation ability, and earnings stability. The ETF includes companies such as Alphabet, L'Oreal, Microsoft, Nvidia, and Visa.

iShares Global Consumer Staples ETF (ASX: IXI)

A final defensive ASX ETF to look at is the iShares Global Consumer Staples ETF. This ETF gives investors exposure to the world's largest global consumer staples companies. This includes giants such as Coca-Cola, Nestle, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and Walmart. As the products these companies manufacture and/or sell are always in demand whatever is happening in the economy, they appear well-placed in the current economic environment.

Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Alphabet, Merck, Microsoft, Nvidia, Pfizer, Visa, and Walmart. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has recommended Johnson & Johnson, Nestlé, and Unilever Plc and has recommended the following options: long January 2024 $47.50 calls on Coca-Cola. The Motley Fool Australia has positions in and has recommended iShares International Equity ETFs - iShares Global Consumer Staples ETF. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Alphabet and Nvidia. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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