(Photos: Obama by Marc Serota/Getty Images, Romney by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON (AP) - For the past year, President Barack Obama has confronted a dizzying swell of economic news - hiring up, hiring down, a euro crisis abroad, seesawing gasoline prices, foreclosures dragging down home values.
Six weeks before the election, those highs and lows are merging into a straighter line. And while that line is below optimum performance, it's moving in a positive direction.
The economic numbers track with polls showing that while a majority says the country is heading in the wrong direction, an increasing number say it's on the right path. The rising optimism also coincides with polls showing Obama opening leads over Republican Mitt Romney in some crucial swing states.
If Obama's advantage holds, September may be remembered as a pivotal month when political and economic attitudes began to gel.
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