By Joan E. Solsman Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- The final Labor Department jobs report for 2011 will punctuate another holiday-shortened week. In addition to the figures on joblessness--some of the most closely watched indicators--markets will mull over monthly sales figures from retailers for the key holiday-shopping month of December. Stock Exchanges Closed Monday For New Year's Holiday Major U.S. stock exchanges will be closed Monday in observance of the New Year's holiday the day before. Jobs Data Leads Lineup Of Indicators Heading the slate of economic indicators next week are nonfarm payrolls data and the latest unemployment rate from the U.S. Department of Labor on Friday. The report will determine whether 2011 ends with continuing improvement in the job market. In the prior month, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 8.6%, the lowest level since March 2009. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires predict payrolls will rise by 155,000 but the unemployment rate, which is determined by a separate survey, will tick up to 8.7%. The Institute for Supply Management releases data on manufacturing activity Tuesday and services Thursday, and the U.S. Census Bureau's factory orders report comes Wednesday. U.S. Retail Sales Likely Rose In December U.S. retailers next week will report December's same-store sales results, the broadest indication yet of how the key holiday-shopping season played out. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect same-store sales to climb across store categories for an average increase of 4.3%. They expect discounters like Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) and Target Corp. (TGT) to report the strongest growth at 6% on average, with apparel retailers like Gap Inc. (GPS) and Limited Brands Inc. (LTD) expected to have the weakest at 2%. Auto Makers To Release December Sales Results On Wednesday The auto industry will report its December U.S. sales on Wednesday. Online automotive-information provider Edmunds.com expects December new car sales to rise 24% from November, although transactions slowed down by the middle of the month. Among the major auto makers, Edmunds said General Motors Co. (GM) will enjoy the biggest month-over-month increases in both sales and market share, up 31% and 1% respectively. Meanwhile, Chrysler Group LLC will have the biggest year-over-year sales and market share growth, rising 37% and 2.4%, respectively, on the success of its Dodge brand. Monsanto, Mosaic Expected To Improve Quarterly Earnings Two key agricultural companies--seed maker Monsanto Co. (MON) and fertilizer producer Mosaic Co. (MOS)--release quarterly results next week. Monsanto, which reports Thursday, raised its earnings guidance for the quarter earlier this month on strong Brazilian and Argentinian business. It was a boost on a forecast that already beat expectations when it was originally released. Chief Executive Hugh Grant has said the company has turned a corner from a backlash a year ago, when customers balked at high prices for a new premium corn seed. Mosaic, reporting Wednesday, is expected to continue its streak of climbing profits. Growing worldwide demand for food has pushed up selling prices more quickly than input costs for the company. Earlier this week, Mosaic said it would cut phosphate production because of oversupply, but it still expected record fertilizer demand next year. Among other notable companies reporting next week, restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday Inc. (RT), for-profit educator Apollo Group Inc. (APOL) and discount retailer Family Dollar Stores Inc. (FDO) report Thursday as well. FOMC Minutes May Shed Light On Debate Over Internal Rate Forecasts The Federal Open Market Committee on Tuesday will release the minutes of its last meeting of the year, which might reveal more about state of its debate over whether to make its internal interest-rate forecasts public. The official statement released after the meeting on Dec. 13 gave no indication of the where the debate stands, which suggested the Fed has left it resolved for the year. At that meeting, nine out of 10 Fed officials voted to keep the U.S. central bank's easy-credit policies unchanged for the second meeting in a row, and the statement offered an guardedly more upbeat economic assessment but one still marked by downside risks. Iowa Caucus Kicks Off GOP Presidential Nomination Season Iowans will select their picks for the Republican Party's presidential candidate Tuesday, in the first major event of the 2012 nomination calendar. A recent poll ahead of the state's caucuses, one from CNN/Time/ORC International, showed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney led the field with 25% support in Iowa, followed by Texas Rep. Ron Paul with 22% and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum with 16%. Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House, has seen his support fall to 14% from the 33% he polled at in early December. However, the Iowa caucuses have a spotty record of predicting the GOP's eventual nominee for president. Since the mid-1970s, when the Iowa caucuses' prominence rose, they have correctly predicted the eventual Republican nominee four times and misfired thrice when the race lacked an incumbent. France To Auction Bonds, Testing Borrowing Waters France plans to auction bonds Thursday, an event financial markets will be watching closely to see just how deeply fears of European recession have penetrated. It and a German sale Wednesday represent the first in a heavy schedule of bonds set to be issued by European governments in the new year. Earlier this week, Italy's latest government bond auction had mixed results. Yields dropped on the closely watched three- and 10-year benchmark bonds compared with a month earlier, a welcome drop that followed the government's passage of an austerity package to improve it finances. But the bond auction failed to meet the government's maximum quota, and Italian bond yields remained elevated. The European Central Bank earlier this month allotted nearly half a trillion euros, a record high, in three-year loans to banks. The move was expected to help finance demand for shorter-dated government debt. U.S. Envoy To Visit Asia Following Death Of Kim Jong Il The administration of President Barack Obama is sending a top diplomat to China, South Korea and Japan next week to discuss changes in the region following the death of North Korea's former ruler Kim Jong Il. Kurt M. Campbell, assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs, will arrive in Beijing Tuesday and depart Tokyo Jan. 7, having visited Seoul in between. In addition to discussing "the latest developments related to North Korea," Campbell will discuss changes in Myanmar, where the military-dominated government recently has opened the impoverished country to broader diplomatic relations, as well as freeing some political prisoners and entering talks with the opposition and ethnic minorities. NFL Regular Season Ends Sunday Seven teams will vie for three available playoff slots as the curtain closes on the National Football League's regular season Sunday. The game with the highest stakes is a rivalry showdown between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants, the only faceoff that automatically will shunt the loser off the road to the Super Bowl. Five other teams--the Cincinnati Bengals, the Denver Broncos, the Oakland Raiders, the Tennessee Titans and the New York Jets--are in contention for the last two playoff spots, depending on how they and other teams fare. -By Joan E. Solsman, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2291; firstname.lastname@example.org --Nathalie Tadena, Luca Di Leo, Jeffrey Sparshott, David Wessel and Dow Jones Newswires staff contributed to this article.