The long-moribund housing market has bustled to life, with prices and new-home construction rising in recent weeks. Hiring, so weak earlier this year, picked up last month. And on Thursday, the government reported an acceleration of a downward trend in the number of people seeking unemployment insurance, as well as a sharp improvement in U.S. exports. …

It is by no means a sure thing that the economy recovers in a sustained way, nor is it a sure thing that it will lift Obama’s prospects enough to make his re-election a certainty. And the improvements in the economy have come after the end of June, when many voters have already cemented their views on the presidential candidates, political scientists say.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney has campaigned as a more effective steward of the nation’s economy — arguing that Obama’s policies have failed to lift the financial fortunes of ordinary Americans. And polls show voters tend to agree with Romney.