Economists are a bit more optimistic about the U.S. economy as 2011 comes to a close. But only a bit. A CNNMoney survey of 20 top economists finds their fear of the economy falling into a new recession has retreated in the last three months, as they put the chances of a new downturn at only about 20%. Three months ago, they believed there was about a 30% chance. Only two of them have raised the risk of recession. The economists also believe that the final economic readings will be among the strongest of 2011. Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation’s overall economic health, is expected to have grown at a 3.3% annual rate. This article is a linkout.