NEW YORK, DEC. 9 -- The dollar slipped again today in thin trading as dealers in the foreign exchange markets awaited news on the U.S. trade deficit.

Gold prices edged higher. Republic National Bank of New York quoted the metal at $484.00 a troy ounce at 4 p.m. EST, up from $482.90 late Tuesday.

Activity in the currency markets was muffled by traders' anticipation of the October trade figures, due out Thursday. Analysts said most players were standing aside or taking minor positions in advance of the report, which could set the tone for trading through the end of the year.

"Most everybody is watching and waiting," said James Vick, a senior corporate trader for Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co. "There was very little movement in New York."

The dollar, which had risen slightly Monday, began drifting lower Tuesday as concern about the trade figures mounted.

Traders are expecting the government to report a deficit in the range of $14 billion to $15 billion for October.

Vick said the dollar drew no strength from the summit meeting of President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev because the prospects for nuclear disarmament, although a promising political sign, had little significance for the sagging dollar.

"If we cut down some missiles, everybody's happy to see that, but that's not going to change the prospects for the dollar," said Vick.

In Tokyo, where the trading day begins, the dollar closed today at 132.35 Japanese yen, down from 132.78 Tuesday and its lowest level since postwar exchange rates were established in the late 1940s.

In London, the dollar traded even lower late in the day at 132.30 yen, down from 132.73 late Tuesday. Later in New York, the dollar sank to 132.19 yen, down from 132.64.

In London, one British pound cost $1.8035, up from $1.7965 late Tuesday. In New York, the pound rose to $1.8042 from $1.7990.

In late European trading, the dollar was at 1.6620 West German marks, down from 1.6681 late the day before. In late New York trading, the dollar was at 1.6621 marks, down from 1.6645 late Tuesday.

Other late New York rates, compared with late Tuesday, included: 1.3585 Swiss francs, down from 1.3600; 5.6305 French francs, down from 5.6460; 1,224.00 Italian lire, down from 1,226.50; and 1.3062 Canadian dollars, down from 1.3077.

Gold bullion was unchanged in Europe, quoted at $483.50 a troy ounce in London and $484.00 in Zurich.

Traders said the gold price rose earlier in the day in response to the dollar's weakness, but there was little buying interest over $480 and prices fell back.

Earlier in Hong Kong, gold closed at a bid of $485.27, up from $483.23.

At the New York Commodity Exchange, gold bullion for current delivery was quoted at $484.50 a troy ounce, up from $483.50.

Silver bullion traded late in London at a bid of $6.72 a troy ounce, up from $6.71.

At the New York Comex, silver bullion for current delivery was quoted at $6.730 a troy ounce, up from $6.715