The Federal Reserve said Tuesday it will begin issuing later this month policymaker forecasts for its benchmark interest rate and when officials expect the first rate rise to occur.

The Fed will publish projections for the path of the overnight federal fund rate when it releases its quarterly economic forecasts after its Jan. 24-25 meeting, minutes of its Dec. 13 gathering said.

The minutes said a number of Fed officials believed economic conditions could well warrant a further easing of monetary policy, and an enhanced communications framework could make any policy shift more effective.

However, a few others believed further stimulus would be a bad idea.

The move to provide interest-rate forecasts is aimed at helping the public and financial markets better understand policymakers' decisions. It is part of a series of refinements to the way the Fed communicates with the public.

At its December meeting, the Fed warned that turmoil from Europe's debt crisis posed a major risk to the U.S. economy and it left the door open to further steps to boost growth, even though it noted a somewhat stronger labor market.

(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Neil Stempleman)