TORONTO -- North American stock markets rallied and the loonie neared 76 cents US after an optimistic outlook for oil prices suggested they may have reached their lowest point.

The International Energy Agency said in a report that oil prices may have "bottomed out." Boosted by the news, The April contract for benchmark North American crude rose 66 cents to US$38.50 a barrel.

The commodity-sensitive loonie closed up 0.65 of a U.S. cent at 75.58 cents US, after reaching a morning peak of 75.93 cents US. The spike in oil prices also boosted North American stock markets.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, the S&P/TSX composite index closed up 142.86 points at 13,522.00 for its third consecutive weekly advance.

In New York, the S&P 500 gained 32.62 points to 2,022.19, the Dow Jones industrial average soared 218.18 points to 17,213.31 and the Nasdaq rose 86.31 points to 4,748.47.

Elsewhere in commodities, the April contract for natural gas rose three cents to US$1.82 per mmBtu and May copper rose two cents to US$2.24 a pound. April gold fell $13.40 to US$1,259.40 a troy ounce.