* Pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rises 1.3 percent
* Retailer Tesco top gainer after trading update
* Stanchart to close bulk of global equities business
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, Jan 8 (Reuters) - European shares rose sharply on Thursday, tracking gains in the United States and Asia, as retail stocks rallied and the minutes from the Fed's recent meeting reassured investors that it was not in a hurry to start raising rates.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 1.3 percent at 1,347.70 points by 0856 GMT, helped by a 1.4 percent rise in the STOXX Europe 600 Retail index.
Shares in Britain's biggest grocer Tesco surged 5.8 percent, the top gainer in the FTSEurofirst 300 index, after saying it planned to sell assets and cut hundreds of millions of pounds of costs to fund lower prices in store. Peer Sainsbury was up 3.5 percent.
"Four Christmases and four profit warnings later, it seems Tesco has turned the corner and have a plan to deal with its self-inflicted troubles of last few years," Manish Singh, head of investment services at Crossbridge Capital, said.
"Tesco is still the largest UK retailer with over 30 percent market share and the numbers reported for this Christmas were better than anticipated. A lot of positive for markets to chew and cheer on even as non-payment of dividend is a negative."
However, Marks & Spencer fell 3.8 percent after posting a worse-than-expected 5.8 percent drop in underlying sales of clothing, gifts and homeware over Christmas.
Broadly, the market got support from the Fed minutes. The central bank pressed ahead with its plans to begin raising interest rates later this year, but Fed officials said they could be "patient" in deciding when to begin the process.
U.S. and Asian stocks rallied overnight on the Fed minutes and data showing private employers in the United States added more jobs last month than expected.
"The job report shows further strength in the U.S. labour market and underpins the solid expectations for the non-farm payroll figures on Friday. U.S. companies are consistently adding jobs and this is good news for consumer spending going forward," Christian Stocker, equity strategist at UniCredit in Munich, said.
Among other movers, Standard Chartered also rose 2.1 percent. The bank is closing the bulk of its global equities business and axing 4,000 retail banking jobs to aggressively cut costs, according to a memo seen by Reuters.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today's European research round-up (Editing by Toby Chopra)