TOKYO, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Japan's No. 2 steelmaker JFE Steel is interested in expanding operations in the U.S., its president said on Wednesday, noting ties between the countries' steel industries would deepen in the wake of rival Nippon Steel's acquisition of U.S. Steel.

Nippon Steel, Japan's top steelmaker, clinched a deal on Monday to buy Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel for $14.9 billion in cash, prevailing in an auction for the 122-year-old iconic steelmaker over rivals such as Cleveland-Cliffs, ArcelorMittal and Nucor .

For JFE, the flagship unit of JFE Holding Inc, the U.S. steel market looks also attractive as demand is expected to steadily grow, JFE Steel President Yoshihisa Kitano said at a news conference.

"The U.S. steel business is expected to grow... with solid demand growth anticipated from automobile sector," Kitano said.

He also said there were several parts of the U.S. market where steelmakers could generate solid earnings from the perspective of economic security.

"If there is an opportunity, we would like to consider (expanding) while assessing what kind of business areas present opportunities," Kitano said.

But he added there was no concrete plan to boost investment in the U.S. at the moment.

Kitano, who is also the chairman of the Japan Iron and Steel Federation, declined to comment on the deal in his capacity as the head of the industry group.

But he said, as a personal opinion, the successful acquisition by Nippon Steel was expected to deepen collaborative efforts between the U.S. and Japanese steel industries, including initiatives toward carbon neutrality. (Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Jamie Freed)