Wall Street stocks mostly rose Wednesday, shrugging off unrest in Washington as rioters, angry supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump, stormed the US Capitol, disrupting a vote to make official Trump's November election defeat.

The display drew shudders from commentators worried about a democracy on edge, and some politicians decried an attempted coup. But even with the chaos, the Dow still finished at an all-time high.

Investors are essentially running out the clock on Trump's term and expect the US to move on soon.

"I think there's just a realization that's what's happening today is the end," said FHN Financial's Chris Low. "We should be back to a more rational universe within a week or two.

The occupation of the US Capitol came shortly after Vice President Mike Pence announced he would not intervene to stop the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's victory, drawing criticism from Trump, who continued to falsely claim the election was somehow fraudulent.

In a defiant speech to supporters who gathered in Washington at his behest, Trump vowed, "we will never give up."

Hours later, a flag-waving mob broke down barricades, and smashed glass doors of the Capitol, swarming inside, rampaging through offices and onto the usually solemn legislative floors.

One woman was shot and killed, and others injured inside the Capitol, police said.

Lawmakers were evacuated and huddled in offices and inside the chamber wearing gas masks as security forces guarded the doors with guns drawn.

Major indices retreated from their session peaks, but both the Dow and S&P 500 ended higher, with the blue-chip index at records.

Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities, said the market is looking past the chaos and ahead to the transition to the Biden administration.

Investors also were cheered by the Democratic sweep of the two Georgia Senate runoffs, which give them control of the upper house and raised the odds of more stimulus.

"The assumption is that these domestic terrorists will be removed and that a new administration will take office in 14 days," Hogan said.

"The market, like it or not, tends to model things that have financial impacts," Hogan said. "It's hard to model this to financial implications."

US stocks have been in rally mode since the November election, propelled by accommodative Federal Reserve monetary policy and optimism about prospects for a much stronger economy amid the rollout of coronavirus vaccines.

Infrastructure-linked shares had a big day in anticipation of more public works spending, with Caterpillar rising 5.6 percent and United States Steel surging 17.1 percent.

Earlier, European equity markets had engineered solid gains, with energy stocks advancing with stronger oil prices following Tuesday's announcement at an OPEC meeting. Banking shares also gained on optimism for a better economy due to coronavirus vaccines.

The runoff votes in Georgia could decide the success of Joe Biden's legislative programme for at least the next two years
The runoff votes in Georgia could decide the success of Joe Biden's legislative programme for at least the next two years AFP / virginie kippelen

Oil prices continued to climb higher with US crude finishing at $50.63, its highest level since February following a surprise pledge from Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to cut output.

New York - Dow: UP 1.4 percent at 30,829.40 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.6 percent at 3,748.14 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 0.6 percent at 12,740.79 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 3.5 percent at 6,841.86 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 1.8 percent at 13,891.97 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 1.2 percent at 5,630.60 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 1.8 percent at 3,611.08 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.4 percent at 27,055.94 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.2 percent at 27,692.30 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.6 percent at 3,550.88 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2325 from $1.2298 at 2200 GMT

Dollar/yen: UP at 102.99 yen from 102.72 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3607 from $1.3627

Euro/pound: UP at 90.55 pence from 90.25 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.4 percent at $50.63 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.5 percent at $54.30 per barrel