The Italian austerity budget worth nearly 48 billion euros was approved by the upper house of parliament on Thursday, overcoming its first parliamentary hurdle.

The four-year package, which is aimed at balancing the budget by 2014, passed in the Senate with 161 votes in favor, 135 votes against and three abstentions.

The package now moves to the lower house of parliament where it is expected to be passed on Friday evening.

(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte)