MTECHTIPS-Crude prices held overnight gain into Asia on Thursday as investors mulled assurances on OPEC compliance with an output cut and noted a surprise draw in U.S. inventories. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude for April rose 0.47% to $49.09 a barrel, while on London’s Intercontinental Exchange global benchmark Brent for May delivery was quoted up 0.12% to $52.05 a barrel. U.S. crude inventories fell by 240,000 barrels by the end of last week, the U.S. energy Information Administration (EIA) said Wednesday, compared to an expected 3.2 million barrels gain. Gasoline inventories fell by 3.1 million barrels, while distillates dropped 4.2 million barrels, compared with declines of 1.98 million barrels and 1.5 million barrels respectively. The crude draw was less than the American Petroleum Institute (API) estimate of a 530,000 barrels drop. Overall, crude inventories at 528.2 million barrels are 7.3% higher than year-ago levels, and the storage hub at Cushing, Oklahoma, recorded a build of 2.13 million barrels. Sentiment improved following a sharp sell-off on Tuesday as the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) said the global crude oil market is headed for a deficit of supply against demand in the first half of the year if a coordinated pact to curb output to the market holds until the end of June. “If current production levels were maintained to June when the output deal expires, there is an implied market deficit of 500,000 (barrels per day) bpd for 1H 17, assuming, of course, nothing changes elsewhere in supply and demand,” the IEA said in its latest monthly report, covering February.