* Steel, iron ore futures inch up in early trade
* Northern cities announce early winter restrictions on steel
* Coke, coking coal prices continue to fall
BEIJING, Sept 27 (Reuters) - China’s iron ore and steel futures edged up on Wednesday after some cities in the north of the country announced an early start to winter restrictions on mill output, though coke and coking coal both continued to fall on worries over faltering demand.
The most-traded construction steel futures contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was up 0.58 percent at 3,637 yuan ($548.11) per tonne at 0326 GMT.
Iron ore for January delivery on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was up 0.21 percent from the previous session at 469 yuan per tonne, on course to break a four-day losing streak.
The city of Handan, in China’s Hebei province, has ordered the closure of 50 percent of blast furnace production from Oct. 1, according to consultancy Mysteel, which is some six weeks before the official winter heating season starts on Nov. 15.
Also in Hebei, the key steelmaking hub of Tangshan earlier this week announced temporary restrictions on pelletizing and sintering production to tackle poor air quality. These restrictions have now been lifted, according to media reports.
Early anti-smog action in Hebei has led to a fall in the price of steelmaking raw materials, said Zhao Xiaobo, an analyst at Sinosteel Futures in Beijing.
The market expects demand for these materials to fall during the heating season, when as much as 50 percent of steel production in cities such as Tangshan is shut down, Zhao said, adding that cuts are more likely to be implemented early in places experiencing bad weather like Hebei.
Coking coal and coke markets have declined some 20 percent over the past month, with investors placing bearish bets amid concerns about falling demand over the Chinese winter.
Dalian’s most-active coke futures contract, for delivery in January, was down 1.58 percent at 1,990.50 yuan. The market last week notched up its biggest weekly loss since May.
The most-active coking coal futures contract dropped 0.47 percent to 1,172.50 yuan, extending Tuesday’s losses. ($1 = 6.6355 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Joseph Radford)