By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO (Reuters) - The Nikkei share average rose in turbulent trade on Friday following the previous day's 7.3 percent dive, but the extreme volatility and worries that Japan's bull-run may be running out of steam sidelined many investors.
The Nikkei rose 0.9 percent to end at 14,612.45 after dropping as much as 3.5 percent to 13,981.52 in the afternoon. In morning trade, it rose as high as 15,007.50, as investors picked up some beaten-down stocks after the market's largest one-day drop in two years on Thursday.
For the week, it dropped 3.5 percent, the biggest weekly decline since October.
Traders said that volatile trade was caused by hedge funds' futures trade and retail investors' margin trading, and predicted that volatility might last for a while.
"We are still in a market affected by the aftermath of yesterday's jolt. It's like when an enormous earthquake hits 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 were mixed, with Toyota Motor Corp falling 1.0 percent, Canon Inc (7751.T) shedding 0.7 percent, Komatsu Ltd dropping 1.0 percent while Honda Motor Co rose 0.7 percent and Panasonic Corp gained 0.9 percent.
The broader Topix rose 0.5 percent to 1,194.08 in heavy trade, with 5.89 billion shares changing hands. That compares with last month's average daily volume of 4.31 billion shares.
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 rollback 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 stock prices this year. They said that the Nikkei could decline further, pegging immediate support around 13,800 and mid-term support near 13,000.
"People who chased the market higher while they got carried away by the upward momentum finally realized that the Nikkei's price was not justified by its fundamentals," said Makoto Kikuchi, chief executive of Myojo Asset Management. "Considering what companies are expecting this fiscal year, the Nikkei's appropriate levels are between 13,000-13,500."
The Nikkei is up more than 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 40 percent this year and up 18 percent since April 4, when the Bank Of Japan announced that it would embark on aggressive monetary easing.
SOME REMAIN UPBEAT IN LONG-TERM
Thursday's dive and Friday's volatile trade have pushed many investors to the cautious side, but some traders remain upbeat on prospects for higher corporate earnings for the fiscal year through March.
As the weaker yen has improved the outlook for many exporters, analysts expect an average operating profit rise of 30 percent, compared with the companies' conservative forecasts of around a 20 percent increase in operating profits.
Many exporters have used assumptions of around 90-95 yen to the dollar, while the dollar last traded at 101.75 yen. The dollar is moving away from a 4 1/2 year high of 103.74 yen tapped on Wednesday, but it is still well above the 100-yen mark.
"It's just a speed bump, in my view. The Japanese market is due for a technical correction after strong returns we have this year," said U.S.-based Audrey Kaplan, fund manager of the $656 million Federated InterContinental Fund.
"The economic conditions in Japan are substantially better than they were a few months ago. That will support the market going forward," she said, adding that she has increased Japan weightings in her fund to 20 percent from 14.9 percent at the end of March.
Among other gainers on Friday, SoftBank Corp (9984.T) rose 1.3 percent and was the second most traded stock by turnover on news that Sprint Nextel Corp (S.N) and SoftBank Corp (9984.T) had received all needed state regulatory approvals for the proposed $20.1 billion purchase of 70 percent of Sprint.
(Editing by Richard Borsuk)