The European Central Bank is considering plans to launch an asset-backed securities program worth up to 500 billion euros ($637 billion), Reuters reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the discussions. The three-year program could be announced today, unless there is opposition from the central bank's policy makers, Reuters said. It would comprise ABS, also known as "private quantitative easing", as well as bond buying. Last week, the ECB said it had tapped BlackRock to work on the design of an ABS program. The surprise leak comes just ahead of the monthly meeting of ECB policy makers and accompanying press conference from its president, Mario Draghi, due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Investors have had the meeting in focus ever since Draghi hinted in August that the bank might be looking at introducing full-on QE.

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