* Nikkei down 1.8 pct, Topix off 1.4 pct * Nikkei support seen 13,800 short-term, 13,000 mid-term - analysts * Futures selling drags down market - traders By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, May 24 (Reuters) - The Nikkei share average snapped back into the red on Friday afternoon in a turbulent session, as the previous day's 7.3 percent plunge forced some investors to scale back their exposure to Japanese equities. Traders said that hedge funds were selling futures while retail investors also engaged in margin selling in the afternoon as they didn't want to hold positions before the weekend. The Nikkei dropped as much as 3.5 percent to 13,981.52, after rising to 15,007.50 in morning trade which came after Thursday's biggest one-day rout in two years. The benchmark was last down 1.8 percent at 14,226.41, underscoring the extreme volatility. "We are still in a market affected by the aftermath of yesterday's jolt. It's like, when an enormous earthquake hit a region, people are prepared for an aftershock, and that's what we are seeing now," said Kyoya Okazawa, head of global equities and commodity derivatives at BNP Paribas. Exporters took a hit, with Toyota Motor Corp falling 2.2 percent, while Canon Inc shed 2.1 percent and Sony Corp dropped 2.7 percent. Thursday's selloff was triggered by weak manufacturing activity data in China, Japan's second-biggest export market, as well as worries about an earlier-than-expected roll-back of U.S. stimulus. But market participants said that weak data from China was merely a trigger for profit-taking as investors had been looking for the right time to cut back on their holdings given the massive surge in prices this year. They said that the Nikkei may decline further, pegging immediate support around 13,800 and mid-term support near 13,000. The Nikkei is up over 60 percent since mid-November, buoyed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's prescription of aggressive monetary and fiscal policies to revive the world's third-largest economy. Despite Thursday's slide, the index is still up around 35 percent this year and up 13 percent since April 4, when the Bank Of Japan announced that it would embark on an aggressive monetary easing. "Investor sentiment is pointing south, as the Nikkei broke above the 15,000 line on short-covering this morning," said Mitsushige Akino, a chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset Management. "Considering how much the Nikkei has gained this month, yesterday's decline was not enough... a correction will likely continue." The broader Topix dropped 1.4 percent to 1,172.13.