Italian Senate Passes Key Budget Law

Italy's Senate approved a new budget law on Friday, clearing the way for final approval of the package in the lower house on Saturday and the formation of an emergency government to replace Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The austerity and reform measures, aimed at boosting the economy and controlling a huge public debt, followed demands by European partners for urgent action to restore market confidence in Italy's strained public finances.

Berlusconi, who failed to secure a majority in a crucial vote on Tuesday, has promised to resign once the law receives final parliamentary approval.

(Reporting By Catherine Hornby)