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Daimler, Akzo Nobel prop up European equities

* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.4 pct

* Daimler, Akzo rise after forecast-beating results

* Investors keeping wary eye on Ukraine crisis

LONDON, July 23 (Reuters) - Forecast-beating earnings from carmaker Daimler and chemicals group Akzo Nobel lifted European shares on Wednesday, offsetting concerns about a ramping up of sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

Germany's blue chip DAX index rose 0.5 percent, led higher by car and truck maker Daimler.

Daimler rose 1.5 percent after it posted earnings above expectations, following strong demand for new models of its high-end Mercedes-Benz cars in countries such as China.

Akzo Nobel also advanced by 4 percent after posting higher-than-expected second quarter earnings. Both Akzo Nobel and Daimler contributed the most points to a 0.4 percent advance on the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index.

"The results season so far has not been too bad," said Mirabaud Securities' European equity sales executive Rupert Baker.

The FTSEurofirst 300 remains some 1.4 percent below its June and July peaks, which marked its highest level in six-and-a-half years.

The index has retreated over the last week after a Malaysian passenger plane was shot down on July 17 over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, where Kiev is struggling to quell a pro-Russian separatist rebellion, killing 298 people.

Western powers have accused pro-Russia rebels of having shot down the plane by mistake and the European Union has raised the prospect of restricting Russian access to European capital markets, defence and energy technology.

However, stock markets have not sold off too aggressively in the wake of the crisis between Ukraine and Russia.

Mirabaud Securities' Baker said China was a more important market for German carmakers than Russia.

Joe Rundle, head of trading at ETX Capital, said that, while many investors remained concerned about the situation in Ukraine, the majority only saw a small risk of it leading to a more serious conflict between the West and Russia.

"The market is worrying about a serious escalation, but I believe there's a fairly small chance of that. With the earnings being better, that's giving traders a reason to be positive despite the uncertainty," said Rundle.

Europe bourses in 2014: http://link.reuters.com/pap87v

Asset performance in 2014: http://link.reuters.com/gap87v

Today's European research round-up

(additional reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Gareth Jones)