Markets were lower on Monday as trade wars continued to take its toll on market sentiment.

One bright spot was that the ISM Manufacturing Index rose to 60.2 in June from 58.7, and construction spending rose 0.4% in May.

Dell Technologies (DVMT)  said it would offer to swap stock that tracks its VMware (VMW) - Get Report  subsidiary for either cash or shares in the computer company controlled by founder and CEO Michael Dell.

Here are three top takes from the columnists of Real Money and Real Money Pro, our premium sites for Wall Street professionals and active investors:

Uncertainty Abounds at 2018's Midpoint

Real Money Pro columnist Bret Jensen says that "It is hard to believe we already have arrived at the first trading day of the second half of 2018. Where does the time go these days?

"Last week was a forgettable one for investors. Equities were challenged by trade tensions continuing to escalate and oil prices settling in at three-and-a-half year highs. The high-beta parts of the market were especially impacted. The Nasdaq pulled back 2.3% and small-caps were no better. Small biotech firms in particular were hit hard as the market went into a risk-off mode.

"The go-go nature of the stock market since the November 2016 elections disappeared in the first half of this year. Equities did little but move sideways...At least interest rates, which were rising through most of the early part of the year, have stabilized recently."

Trump's Tariff War Will Bite Investors Hard

"The notion that tariff taxes will balance out trade and create greater fairness in global commerce is complete nonsense in my opinion. If we watch the response from markets each time a tweet or statement about tariffs is made, we would understand that market players are not bullish on this policy. Rather, there is negative sentiment toward tariffs, and history shows nobody wins a trade war," writes Real Money columnist Robert Lang. 

Three for July Fourth: Lasting American Names That Continue the Good Fight

Real Money columnist Jonathan Heller notes that "As we celebrate the 242nd anniversary of our nation's independence this Wednesday, I am reminded of the plethora of companies that have been a part of the country's fabric and growth for a significant portion of our history. Many have had their struggles along the way and may be facing some issues in the current economic environment, but I'd like to look at three uniquely American names that have stood, and I believe will continue to stand, the test of time."