Australian shares inched higher on Friday, although the index posted its worst weekly performance in more than two months with investors staying on the sidelines as the deadline nears for the U.S. debt ceiling talks to avoid a default.

The S&P/ASX 200 index snapped a four-day losing streak to close 0.2% higher at 7,154.8 points.

Global risk confidence was subdued as investors awaited more cues from the U.S. debt ceiling negotiations, as the country could fall into a dangerous default if a definite agreement could not be sealed by June 1.

"With the deadline drawing closer, traders remain on alert regarding the discussion," said Tim Waterer, chief market analyst from KCM Trade.

"There seems an inevitability that U.S. lawmakers will wait as long as possible before signing on a deal, which is causing some distress for markets."

Australia's retail sales were flat in April, as consumers cut expenditures due to cost pressures, which pointed towards a possibility to a rate pause in May.

Local investors will also look towards inflation data next week for more ideas on the central bank's rate trajectory.

"With unemployment and retail sales coming in weaker than expected, the chance of another pause is probable," Josh Gilbert, a market analyst with eToro said, "A lower-than-expected inflation data next week should solidify the likelihood of rates staying on hold."

On the domestic front, tech stocks led gains, firming about 1.6% mirroring its peers on the Nasdaq Composite Index.

Miners gained about 1%, as iron ore prices recovered in top steelmaker China, with Rio Tinto and BHP Group edging up 2.2% and 1.3%, respectively. The sector, however, posted its worst week since early March.

On the flip side, the healthcare index fell 0.8%, with sector major CSL Ltd slipping the same.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell to a seven-week low, slipping 1.1% to finish the session at 11,830 points.

(Reporting by Archishma Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)