Europe sales of $2.5 billion were down by 7% in U.S. dollars, but up by more than 3% in local currency, led by double-digit growth in Germany and the U.K.
Asia-Pacific sales grew year-over-year for the second consecutive quarter, increasing 4% in dollars and 9% in local currency to $2 million, an all-time second quarter high. Sales grew 16% local currency, excluding Australia, which continues to face challenging economic conditions in a highly competitive selling environment.
Led by a robust growth in many countries, Latin America sales also hit a high for a second quarter, increasing 14% to $442 million, despite local currency headwinds of 13 percentage points. Worldwide gross margin was 5.16% compared with 5.25% in the year ago quarter. The overall selling environment continues to be competitive.
Additionally, gross margin was impacted by a larger mix of high-volume, lower margin product sales in our broad line business, including more sales into e-tail and retail customer space in international markets.
Although lower gross margin, each sale generated require relatively low incremental operating expenses, which helped via the acceptable returns on investment. The regional teams did a great job of managing costs, resulting in an excellent operating leverage.
Q2 operator expense was $355 million, or 404 basis points, which included charges of $6 million or 7 basis points, primarily associated with acquisition-related costs and asset impairments related to the shutdown of our Argentina operations.
Worldwide operating income was $98 million, or 111 basis points of sales, which includes the $6 million or 7 basis points in charges I just described. On a regional basis, North America operating income was the highest for a second quarter in over a decade, coming in at $69 million or 139 basis points of sales, which includes charges totaling approximately $4 million or 10 basis points associated with acquisition-related costs.
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