MTECHTIPS- Gold prices slumped to a four-week low on Tuesday, as the dollar rose on increased expectations that the Federal Reserve (Fed) will hike interest rates at its policy meeting this month. Gold for April delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange shed $9.65 or 0.79%, to trade at $1,216.05 a troy ounce. A recent batch of strong U.S. economy data coupled with hawkish comments from Fed Chair Janet Yellen last Friday fueled expectations that the U.S. central bank will hike rates in March. According to Investing.com’s Fed rate monitor tool, nearly 90% of traders expect a rate hike in March, compared to just 81.9% of traders on Monday. Gold is sensitive to moves in U.S. interest rates, which lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets such as bullion, while boosting the dollar in which it is priced. Gold struggled to mount a recovery, despite a brief setback in the dollar as it pared gains, after the release of economy data showed the U.S. trade deficit grew in January to its widest monthly level in almost five years. The commerce department said Tuesday, the trade gap widened by 9.6% to $48.5 billion in January, the highest level since March 2012, and in line with economists’ forecasts. Meanwhile, investors await non-farm payrolls for February on Friday, viewed as a critical barometer of the U.S. economy and represents the final key economic data point ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting on March 14-15. Commodities across the board traded lower in the midst of a higher dollar, as silver futures slumped 1.24% to $17.55 a troy ounce while Copper traded lower at $2.62. Platinum traded at $962.45 down 1.61% and Natural Gas Futures trickled 1.83% lower to $2.85.