NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The first week of the new year brings a busy economic calendar with the power to move the markets.

The week will culminate Friday with the ever-important nonfarm payroll report for December and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony in front of a Senate budget panel.

The employment report has been a thorn in the side of the bulls. The report for November came in shockingly weak, with only 39,000 jobs added to nonfarm payrolls, and traders are anxiously looking for a rebound.

In the run-up to the nonfarm payrolls report, other economic reports will help economists and traders refine their predictions for it.

First up will be the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) manufacturing index for December, due out Monday at 10 a.m. EST. Economists are predicting a small improvement in this gauge of national manufacturing activity. Last week, the Chicago PMI came in better than expected, and that has provided a little more optimism that the ISM report will get the markets off to the right start in 2011.

"A strong ISM reading could make me a little more optimistic about the nonfarm payroll number," said Ellen Beeson Zentner, senior U.S. macro economist for the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

Zentner noted that even though last week's ISM Chicago reading is a manufacturing index, its details include retail-sector jobs. At the national level, retail is a key driver of the labor outlook, so the strength in the ISM Chicago report was "generally encouraging for the overall numbers," she said.

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In a more labor-specific read-through for nonfarm payrolls, ADP will release its private-sector payroll report for December on Wednesday. The consensus is for a pullback to 75,000 jobs from the 93,000 reported for November.

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