US economic data could be a boost for these 4 ASX shares

Overnight in the United States there was quite a lot of economic data released which could have a say in how a number of S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) shares perform today. No prizes for guessing that the piece of data which took all the headlines was the US core inflation, which came in at a good 0.2%.

Core inflation takes out volatile items such as energy and food, and is believed to be keenly watched by Janet Yellen and the Federal Reserve. The result of 0.2% for April means that US core inflation is 2.1% for the last 12 months, and within the Federal Reserve’s target range.

This suddenly brought rate hikes at the Federal Reserve’s June meeting back onto the table and US financial markets sold off as a result. A rate rise could be great news for shares such as Ardent Leisure Group (ASX: AAD) and ARB Corporation Limited (ASX: ARB) which could receive a boost if it causes the US dollar to strengthen against the Australian dollar.

I believe that both companies could see their revenue increase thanks in part to their growing US operations. At present almost one-third of Ardent Leisure’s sales come from the United States through its Main Event brand.

ARB’s US sales may only account for 12% of its total sales, but this is growing at a strong pace. In the last fiscal year sales in the US grew by a massive 37% year-on-year.

Possibly sliding under the radar a touch was the news that housing starts in the US had increased. Housing construction jumped 6.6% and building permits rebounded strongly with a 3.6% increase, thanks largely to improvements in the apartment segment.

This could be great news for two shares on the Australian Stock Exchange in particular. Both Boral Limited (ASX: BLD) and James Hardie Industries plc (ASX: JHX) have exposure to US home construction.

James Hardie Industries is the world leader in fiber cement and pulls in almost 75% of its total revenue from the United States. A lot of home builders have a preference for fiber cement due to it being more durable than engineered wood and more cost effective and quicker to build with than brick. I believe last night’s data release could give its share price a further lift ahead of its full year update on Thursday.

The same could be said for Boral. In its first-half results it reported sales in the United States had grown from 19% to 20% of total sales. Its US business has been struggling recently, but has just returned to profitability. Increased construction could go some way to ensuring it remains profitable.

Whilst I believe these four shares may get a bit of a boost from last night's US economic data, I believe this exciting tech share has the potential to outshine all of them in the long-term. If your portfolio is in need of a boost then look no further than this one.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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