Oil prices dropped sharply Wednesday as fresh signs emerged of recessionary conditions and OPEC cut its forecast for demand. Light, sweet crude declined by $4.09 to $74.54 a barrel in New York, and Brent crude fell $3.73 to $70.80 a barrel. The near-month crude contract has now fallen nearly 50% from its all-time high, reached in July. Gasoline futures dropped 10 cents to $1.78 a gallon, and heating oil was lower by 7 cents at $2.19 a gallon. The weakness came after OPEC cut its projections for 2008 and 2009 demand, citing the troubles plaguing financial markets and global economies. On a day the stock market fell sharply, energy shares were no exception. Exxon Mobil ( XOM), ConocoPhillips ( COP) and Chevron ( CVX) all had double-digit percentage losses. Valero ( VLO) and Tesoro ( TSO) fell 20% and 18.6%, respectively. The U.S. Oil ( USO) ETF, which tracks crude prices, slid 6.6%.