A new batch of lousy economic news dragged oil prices down nearly 7 percent Tuesday, as signs from across the globe pointed to a prolonged and painful recession. Light, sweet crude for March delivery fell $2.53 to $34.98 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after settling at $37.51 on Friday. Nymex was closed for the Presidents Day holiday on Monday. Energy analysts at Raymond James & Associates said broader market concerns continue to weigh heavily on crude prices, even as President Barack Obama prepared to sign into law the $787 billion stimulus package Tuesday. Stocks took a nosedive in early trading Tuesday, as Wall Street reacted to unsettling news from the automotive and retail fronts, as well as slumping markets from Asia to Europe. General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC were racing to finish restructuring plans to present to the federal government, but it appeared both may miss Tuesday's deadline. The plans are supposed to outline how the automakers intend to again become viable and repay billions of dollars of government loans.