* spot gold= was little changed at $1,147.40 an ounce by 0039 GMT. The metal climbed to $1,151.20 in the previous session, its highest since Sept. 24.
* Data on Tuesday showed that U.S. exports took a hit from an ailing global economy in August and imports from China surged, fuelling the largest expansion of America's trade deficit in five months. ID:nL1N1260PQ
* The data, following a weak nonfarm payrolls report last week, showed the U.S. economy's vulnerabilities to a strong dollar and weak demand in foreign markets, which could impose further caution on the Fed's plans to hike interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade. ID:nL1N1260PQ
* Higher rates could dent demand for non-interest-paying gold.
* Fed Chair Janet Yellen said last month she expected the U.S. central bank to begin raising rates this year, but weak U.S. economic data since then and caution about the global economy has prompted many to push out expectations.
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