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* Puma rises on 'less laboured start to 2024 than feared'

* 'Nice set' of Q1 figures drive Ahold Delhaize shares higher

* BMW down after car margin misses consensus

* Sabadell falls as BBVA will not improve takeover offer

* German industrial output falls less than expected in March

May 8 (Reuters) - Europe's benchmark stock index hit a record high on Wednesday, on continued cheer over strong earnings from the likes of beer maker Anheuser-Busch Inbev and Germany's Siemens Energy, while investors also mulled the fate of major central bank rate cuts.

The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 0.3% of 0830 GMT to a record high, following Tuesday's more than 1% jump.

The STOXX 600 has regained some lost ground, after losing steam in April, as corporate earnings have been resilient, the European Central Bank is confident of a likely first rate cut in June and as Middle East tensions are somewhat ebbing.

"The ECB is in the best position among the majors to start cutting," Daniela Hathorn, senior Market analyst at Capital.com said.

However, ECB officials have flagged uncertainties around monetary policy easing beyond June, while across the Atlantic, doubts around the Federal Reserve's rate cuts loom large.

"One rate cut isn't going to solve all the problems, but it definitely gives investors a feeling that the ECB is in tune with what's happening in the economy," Hathorn said.

German economic institute IW noted the economy will stagnate in 2024 and will continue to lag behind regional peers. Separate data showed a lower-than-expected decline in Europe's largest economy's industrial production in March.

On the earnings front, the world's largest beer maker Anheuser-Busch Inbev climbed 4.6% after posting consensus-beating first-quarter earnings and confirming its 2024 outlook, helping the food and beverages index rise 1.4% to be the top sectoral gainer.

Siemens Energy spiked 11% as the power equipment maker raised its 2024 outlook after a second-quarter results beat, emerging as the top gainer on Germany's benchmark index .

Supermarket group Ahold Delhaize rose 3.6% after a first-quarter core profit margin beat, while German sportswear maker Puma advanced 5.1% after first-quarter sales came in line with expectations.

Italy's Leonardo rose 2.5% on rising first-quarter orders and revenue. The broader aerospace and defence index rose 1.7%.

BMW lost 3% after its car segment's first-quarter EBIT margin missed consensus, pulling the automobiles index down 1% and making it the worst sector performer.

Of the 185 STOXX 600 companies to have reported first-quarter earnings to date, 61% exceeded estimates versus the typical 54% beat rate, weekly LSEG data showed on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Sabadell dropped 3.4% after Spanish lender BBVA told the company it will not improve its all-share takeover offer.

Elsewhere, London's benchmark FTSE 100 also rose to a record high, with the Bank of England's policy decision due on Thursday. (Reporting by Ankika Biswas in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Mrigank Dhaniwala)