A man walks past the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai.
A man walks past the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai.Reuters

Indian stock markets advanced Wednesday ahead of the outcome of the crucial vote on the government's decision to allow foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail.

The 30-share BSE Sensex gained 0.38 percent or 77.50 points to 19,425.62 and the 50-share NSE Nifty rose 0.31 percent or 18.00 points to 5,907.35, the highest level in more than 19 months.

Markets opened on a positive note, tracking firm Asian cues after data showed that China's service activity expanded in November but at a slower pace compared to that in the previous month. The HSBC Services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), a measure of the nationwide service activity, rose to 52.1 in November compared to 53.5 in October.

However, the upward move was limited as investors opted for caution ahead of the crucial vote in the parliament on whether to allow 51 percent foreign investment in the retail sector. While the ruling Congress party favours the move, some of its coalition partners in the central government have already voiced their disagreement.

"The trend is up, but we don't expect the market to rise much until there is a positive vote on foreign direct investment in retail," A.K. Prabhakar, senior vice president at Anand Rathi Securities, told the Wall Street Journal.

Among the sectoral indices, realty and metal sectors surged 1.58 and 1.57 percent, respectively, while IT, technology and power sectors were trading in red.

DLF surged 2.96 percent and Sobha Developers gained 2.88 percent while Sterlite Industries and Sesa Goa surged 4.06 and 3.51 percent, respectively.

Shares in the IT sector plunged after Cognizant Technology Solutions said its fiscal 2012 revenue is expected to grow by 20 percent, down from its earlier projection of 23 percent growth. Infosys Ltd. declined 1.73 percent and Wipro Ltd. fell 1.61 percent.

IT stocks fell over 1 percent after U.S. listed Cognizant said it expected sales to growth at 16 per cent in 2013, lower than 20 percent expected growth in 2012. Wipro was among the biggest Nifty losers, down 2.3 per cent. Infosys declined 2 percent.

The overall market breadth was positive with 1605 advanced against 1087 declines. The BSE's Midcap Index gained 0.61 percent to 7034.80 and Smallcap Index advanced 0.77 percent to 7438.28. CNX midcap Index gained 0.40 percent and CNX IT declined 1.27 percent.